In August, the seasonally adjusted IHS Markit/CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) remained dropped slightly to 50.0, down from 51.9 in July and pointed to the weakest overall UK construction performance in a year.
Residential building was the only area to buck the overall trend in August, with housing activity rising at a robust and accelerated pace since the previous month.
Tim Moore, associate director at IHS Markit and author of the report, said: “UK construction companies indicated that lacklustre growth conditions persisted during August. Civil engineering work stagnated, which meant that the construction sector was reliant upon greater house building activity to deliver an outright expansion in output volumes. Commercial development remained by far the worst performing category, with business activity falling at the fastest pace since July 2016.”
Duncan Brock, director of customer relationships at the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply, added: “Further drag on the construction sector overall was halted by the continuing strong performance by house builders, defying expectations with a good month. The sector was also offered some respite from the ongoing march of rising prices as input price inflation weakened.”
Mark Robinson, chief executive of Scape Group, highlighted the need to increase diversity in the construction market, particularly in light of Brexit.
He commented: “Perhaps more worrying for the long-term is the gaping skills chasm we are experiencing in the UK. We need to see the Government deliver structural reforms, which focus on broadening the skills base – giving greater consideration to the role that women and apprentices can play – particularly whilst a question mark hovers over the heads of our EU migrant construction workers, which make up such a crucial part of our workforce.”