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Reduced workloads spread to civil engineering sector

Civil engineering contractors are reporting a slide in workloads compared to earlier this year.

The sector had largely escaped the woes that have beset the housing market and the commercial and office sectors.

But the latest quarterly report by the Civil Engineering Contractors Association reveals that there are now more firms carrying out less work than in the previous quarter.

Ceca’s quarterly workload trends survey – which measures the difference between the number of contractors reporting higher workloads compared to the number reporting reduced workloads – shows the overall balance for the country is now down to – 17 per cent, compared to a rise of 39 per cent in April.

Contractors surveyed said all roads, water and sewage works had decreased over May, June and July, as had work in the utilities and communications sectors.

Ceca director Rosemary Beales said big-ticket civils jobs needed to come on stream quickly.

She added: “Major projects such as Crossrail and nuclear need to move forward at a steady pace if the Government is to combat this loss of confidence.”

Rail and airports showed positive balances, while harbours and water ways remained neutral.

In terms of regions, England has experienced the biggest decrease in work – going from 45 per cent in January to –22 per cent last month. Wales also reported a downturn, while Scotland is the only positive region – where confidence remains at 16 per cent.

But Ceca Scotland chief executive Alan Watt admitted contractors could still come under pressure due to decreasing workloads.

He added: “Although we are still pretty confident that the Scottish Government’s major public sector infrastructure programme is secure we’re becoming increasingly concerned that the housing market slump could get worse.”

Mr Watt also called on the Scottish Government to confirm the details of the Scottish Futures Trust so that work can continue on schools, hospitals and infrastructure projects.