Scots construction confidence falls but RMI buoyant

Published:  23 February, 2012

EDINBURGH: Confidence in the Scottish construction sector has fallen according to a new quarterly survey of 700 member firms from the Scottish Building Federation.

The confidence barometer has dropped by nine points since the previous quarter and now stands at negative 28 - six points below where it stood at the beginning of 2011.

Two out of three Scottish building firms responding to the survey predict publicly funded construction activity will contract in 2012. A third expect construction employment to fall, outnumbering those predicting a rise by a factor of more than three to one.

Repair and maintenance emerges as the industry sector with the most positive outlook, with more than a quarter of firms predicting activity in this area will rise during 2012.

Most companies anticipate another tough year for house building and the private sector, with nine out of 10 firms anticipating these sectors to remain stagnant or to decline over the next 12 months.

The survey found around 60% of employers expecting the number of workers and apprentices they employ to remain steady over the next 12 months, but more than 30% think their headcount will fall.

Official statistics show the Scottish construction sector lost 30,000 jobs in the 12 months to September 2011.

Although expected to perform better than the public sector, the private sector faces limited prospects in 2012, with 44% of employers saying they expect construction activity to stay the same and 41% forecasting a decline.

House building - already at an all-time low in units completed annually since devolution - faces a similarly challenging year, with 40% of firms expecting activity to drop again this year and a further 49% believing it will remain static.

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