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Scape ONS analysis shows total industry output still 3% below 2008 levels

A new report from Scape claims that recent growth in GDP has masked the full extent of the UK’s reduced construction output.

Using data from the ONS and Scape’s own forecasts, the report shows that total UK construction output remains 3 per cent below pre-2008 levels, as of Q3 2014.

Despite an anticipated 4 per cent quarterly growth in Q3 this year, private sector output remains 7 per cent below the 2008 peak, while public sector output is expected to be just 9 per cent below the 2008 growth trend.

Overall, however, the public sector has grown – output is expected to increase by 8 per cent in Q3 2014 year on year, which would put it 9 per cent above pre-recession levels.

Speaking to Construction News, Scape group chief executive Mark Robinson said that while forecasts are positive, there is a “London bubble that is painting an artificial picture of the recovery.”

“People have got a bit excited because construction in London and the south east has recovered well, but regional growth has been much slower and some areas continue to lag behind”, said Mr Robinson.

“Even with the recent upturn, we are still significantly below where construction output should have been if the pre-recession growth had continued.”

However, not all sectors are struggling to recover to pre-recession levels.

In the public sector, new housing output has increased by 70 per cent compared with pre-recession levels and quarterly output was up 17 per cent in Q2 2014 compared with the same period of 2013.

Public sector infrastructure output has also risen 53 per cent from 2008 levels.

In the private sector, new housing output has grown 19 per cent compared with pre-recession levels, while infrastructure output has increased 37 per cent.

Education output in the private sector is 10 per cent higher than pre-precession levels and was up 3 per cent in Q2 this year.

Commenting on the report, the government’s chief construction adviser Peter Hansford said: “This research shows the dramatic and profound impact the downturn has had on the construction industry. Confidence within the sector is yet to recover fully.

“The analysis also highlights the importance of the public sector development projects as part of the wider construction industry, especially during periods of financial uncertainty.”

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