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Civil firms warn recovery remains ‘fragile’

Civil contractors have warned that recovery in the sector remains fragile, as workload activity slowed towards the end of 2013.

Statistics produced in the Civil Engineering Contractor Association’s Workload Trend report for Q4 2013 showed that while workloads were increasing, activity had slowed in Q4 compared with the previous quarter.

The report records the net balance of those firms reporting increasing workloads minus those reporting a fall.

The strongest growth was seen in rail, which was down to a net balance of +51 per cent from +54 per cent in Q3, as well as preliminary works in housing, up to +40 per cent from +30 per cent in the previous quarter.

However, work on local roads was down to a net balance -6 per cent, as well as activity in airports, which was down to -2 per cent from +4 per cent in Q3 2013.

Contractors remain positive about the future, with a balance of +58 per cent expecting workloads to grow over the coming year.

This came despite a reduction in the rate of growth of new orders, which were down to a balance +3 per cent from +30 per cent in the previous quarter.

CECA director of external affairs Alasdair Reisner said: “It is good news that the infrastructure sector is growing, but today’s report indicates that growth in the sector remains fragile.

“Last year CECA’s Securing our Economy: The case for infrastructure report showed that the country was losing £78bn each year due to sub-standard infrastructure. We will only be able to close this gap by sustaining recent growth in investment.”

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