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Brexit uncertainty stifles construction workloads

Construction workloads have been stunted as Brexit uncertainty continues to spook investors, a new survey has revealed.

Activity in the construction industry has slowed across all sectors in the three months to June, according to the latest Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ (RICS) market survey. 

A net balance (those reporting growth minus those reporting decline) of 21 per cent of respondents reported an increase in total workloads, down from 27 per cent in the previous quarter. 

The private commercial and industrial sectors saw the most significant decline.

A balance of 21 per cent saw their private commercial workloads rise in the second quarter, down 10 percentage points from Q1.

RICS said: “Anecdotal evidence from respondents suggests that uncertainty regarding Brexit is weighing on investment decisions, alongside the political turmoil generated from last month’s general election.” 

A net balance of 15 per cent of respondents reported an increase in workload in private industrial activity, down from 22 per cent in the previous quarter.

RICS senior economist Jeffrey Matsu said ongoing economical and political uncertainties “appear to be weighing on sentiment”.

However, he added: “All things considered, current conditions and year-ahead workload expectations are holding up rather well relative to the longer-term trend.

“Given the ongoing nature of Brexit negotiations, it remains to be seen what impact this will have on financial conditions or the availability of skilled labour to the industry.”

Infrastructure activity has remained “broadly unchanged”, according to the report.

RICS said this could be due to “support from the fiscal commitments outlined in the Autumn Statement last year”.

Respondents had a “less optimistic outlook” for the year ahead, with just 44 per cent expecting overall workloads to rise, down 9 percentage points from the previous quarter (53 per cent). 

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