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Confidence in Scottish construction falls

The challenges of the current economic outlook has caused a further slide in confidence in the Scottish construction industry, according to survey by the Scottish Building Federation.

The survey of SBF members found that weak performance is expected across most sectors, and that confidence for the industry was down to a balance of minus 28 for this quarter, nine points lower than six months before and six points below the level of confidence for the first part of last year.

Nine in ten firms predicted housebuilding and the private sector to be flat or decline over the next 12 months. The SBF said housebuilding was at an all-time of low of units completed annually since records started in 1997, and that 40 per cent of those surveyed expected activity to drop this year.

The repair and maintenance sector illicited the most positive outlook, with more than a quarter of companies saying they expect activity to rise this year. Just 7 per cent expected public sector construction to rise, while almost two thirds predicted a fall in activity.

Two out of three of those surveyed predicted publicly funded construction to drop this year, while one third expected employment to fall.

SBF chief executive Michael Levack said the survey reconfirmed expectations of another tough year. He said:

“The industry has already lost 30,000 jobs in the space of a year. But with more firms anticipating they will have to make redundancies this year than those hoping to recruit, there’s a real prospect that industry employment levels could drop further yet before they start to recover.

“Over the coming months, I hope the industry can work constructively with government at all levels to start rebuilding confidence that has been shattered by the economic downturn. An excellent place to start would be to start dismantling the huge unnecessary bureaucracy around procurement and planning that has stifled our industry for far too long.”

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