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Civils contractors seeing workloads fall and costs rise

There is little sign of recovery in the civils sector as more contractors are seeing workloads decline and costs increase, according to the latest research from Civil Engineering Contractors Association.

Ceca discovered that 43 per cent of participants in its most recent workload trends survey reported lower workloads in the first quarter of 2011 than in the same period last year. Just 16 per cent of respondents reported an increase.

Responses to the survey also highlighted the squeeze between inflation and tender prices that civils contractors were currently facing.

While 76 per cent of respondents reported rising costs, 42 per cent reported prices rising faster than a year ago. A majority of those surveyed also said tender prices were continuing to fall.

Ceca said its data revealed a fragmented recovery with members reporting growth in workload in the rail, water and power sectors, although this did not offset the continuing declines in road work.

Ceca director of external relations Alasdair Reisner said: “For an industry still seeking the light at the end of a very dark tunnel, there are few grounds for optimism in this survey.

“While signs of growth in rail and power are certainly welcome, the fact the overwhelming balance of respondents reported continuing falls in workload is a real cause for concern.”

He added: “Ceca is hopeful that the policies now being implemented by Infrastructure UK and others will support a return to growth in the civil engineering sector.

“However the results of this survey demonstrate that, for an industry being squeezed between rising costs and falling tender prices, the government has no time to lose in taking important measures to streamline procurement and encourage private sector investment.”

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