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Education offers refuge as work plummets

Figures show a 57 per cent drop in the value of work won by top 50 contractors as public sector work grows in importance

Education was the sector to find work in last month with schools and colleges dominating the clients’ league table.

The Construction News contract leagues show six education clients in the top 13 in November with seven deals between them totalling £268 million. South Tyneside, Lambeth, Bolton, Sutton Coldfield and North Hertfordshire colleges joined the London-based Jewish Community Secondary School on the list.

South Tyneside College topped the education spenders and was the third biggest spending client overall after awarding contracts on two jobs.

Surgo Construction and Bam Construct UK beat Shepherd Construction, Sir Robert McAlpine and Laing O’Rourke to win the work.

Surgo won a £26 million contract to build the college’s new 12,000 sq m Hebburn Campus while BAM won a £41 million job to build a 22,000 sq m integrated sixth form and marine college in South Shields.

Glenigan figures show 349 contractors have won a total of 936 education jobs in the year to November worth a total of £8.28 billion.

The top 10 have taken over half the value of that work winning 240 jobs worth £4.68 billion.

November was a slow month for the top 50 contractors who won just £1.54 billion between them, a 57.5 per cent drop on the £3.62 billion haul for the top 50 in November 2007.

While the top 50 in November 2007 was headed by Multiplex’s £550 million Pinnacle skyscraper win in London, Apollo, in 50th place still had to win £16 million worth of work – an amount that would place it 29th in this year’s November rankings.

The top 50 signed £2.77 billion worth of contracts in September and £3.78 billion in October. The main reason for the drop was that there were fewer contracts to win.

The top 50 penned 214 deals in September and 203 deals in October, but only 148 new jobs were won last month. And it is a similar story for quantity surveyors, engineers and architects.

The top 20 quantity surveyors last month signed 43 deals worth £635.4 million compared with 62 deals worth £1.33 billion in October and 56 deals worth £1.5 billion in September.

The 20 leading consulting engineers won 40 jobs worth £513.6 million in November, down from 66 deals worth £2.6 billion in October and 44 deals worth £1.39 billion in September.

And among architects, the top 20 penned 25 contracts worth £785.6 million last month, 48 deals worth £2.24 billion in October and 35 deals worth £2.08 billion in September.

A look at the biggest spending clients over the past year shows an increasing reliance on public sector funding.

The public purse traditionally accounts for about 40 per cent of the construction industry’s annual output.

But only 10 of the top 50 for the year to November 2008 are from the private sector, with a further six being housing associations and the remainder made up of Government departments and local councils.

Carillion finished top of the league last month with two new jobs worth a total of £203 million.