Official - It's not that bad out there

Published:  16 May, 2011

LONDON: National merchants including Travis Perkins, which questioned government statistics on construction output, have been vindicated. The government has revised construction output from 4% to 4.7% for the first quarter.

But some economists say the upward revision is not enough and industry leaders pour scorn on the ONS's original estimate saying the figure bore little relation to the state of the sector.

Michael Ankers, chief executive of the Construction Products Association, in a letter to chancellor George Osborne says: "Few in the industry any longer have any confidence in the ONS statistics and this has a serious impact [on how] companies make investment and other policy decisions."

Noble Francis, economics director at the association, says: "Whether it's 4.7% or 4% down that still doesn't reflect what happened.

"If anything we feel output should have gone up in Q1 rather than down."

Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, says, "Looking forward, there are still significant challenges facing the sector, in particular, the dramatic cuts in the government's capital spending programme and the continuing difficulties in securing development finance."

"As a result, even if official numbers are currently understating the resilience of the sector, the recovery in construction output is likely to be particularly sluggish over the course of this year."

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