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Ceca reports bright start to 2008

The infrastructure sector has made a healthy start to 2008 according to the latest Civil Engineering Contractors Association workload trends survey.

Taken in January, the survey shows that two thirds of firms polled saw a rise in workloads in the past year with only a fifth reporting falling activity.

Growth in workloads was particularly strong in the motorways and trunk roads, railways and electricity sectors. Only local roads and communications work recoding falling workloads.

The results for order books were equally positive with big rises in most sectors. Railways and water led the way with the only slight falls coming in local roads and gas.

The order book figures represent the strongest results in the 11 year history of the Ceca survey.

But a note of caution was sounded as 54 per cent of respondents saw costs rise faster this year than last, while 59 per cent reported difficulty finding staff.

Ceca chairman Peter Andrews said: “It is good to see another very solid set of results for the overall trends in workload, jobs and orders in our industry. The signs of a revival in work on motorways and trunk roads are especially welcome after a five-year slump, and we hope they will be confirmed in our next survey in April.

“With that survey we will be looking in more detail at the trend in civil engineering contractors’ costs. It is clearly very worrying that more than half of those taking part in this survey say their costs are rising faster than they were a year ago. Faster cost inflation is a threat to future workload volumes where clients have to work within tight budgets.”