Subdued start to the new year

Starts in the three months to January were 14% down on a year ago.

Residential starts were 7% lower, due to a marked decline in social housing projects which overshadowed a rise in private housing, and non-residential project starts were 20% lower than during the three months to January 2017 as a decline in commercial and public sector projects outweighed increases in industrial work.

Allan Wilén, Glenigan’s economics director, said: “Encouragingly, an improvement in the private housing sector during the closing months of last year continued during January. Private residential starts were 9% higher than during the same period a year ago. In contrast, the smaller social housing sector has continued to fall away, being down by a third against August to October on a seasonally adjusted basis and 40% lower than a year ago.

“Overall non-residential projects were 20% lower than a year ago, but 7% up against the three months to October on a seasonally adjusted basis. The year-on-year decline is due to a halving in office project starts and persistent weakness in public sector funded areas such as health and community and amenity projects. However, industrial projects starts were 21% higher than a year ago.”

Scotland saw the sharpest rise during the three months to January 2017, with starts 47% higher than a year earlier. There was also firm year-on-year growth in the south east, south west and north east of England, and in Yorkshire and the Humber, with increases of 4%, 34%, 17% and 20% respectively.

In contrast the value of project starts fell back sharply in the east of England, London, Wales and Northern Ireland.