UK building rained off in August 2015

Output in the UK construction industry during August this year was estimated to have declined by 4.3% compared with July 2015 and was also down by 1.3% compared with August 2014, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Output in the Construction Industry report for August 2015 released on Friday.

This first year-on-year fall in construction industry figures since May 2013 is said to be partly due to the inclement weather in Britain during August this year, as bricklayers are unable to work in very wet conditions.

The ONS Construction: Output & Employment survey also revealed that all work types reported decreases, with repair and maintenance (R&M) decreasing by 5.6% in August 2015 compared with July 2015 and new work falling by 3.6% over the same period.

UK construction output fell by 0.8% over the 3 months of June 2015 to August 2015 when compared with the previous 3 months of March 2015 to May 2015,  Repair and maintenance declined by 3.6%, however all new work increased by 0.7%. 

When comparing the June 2015 to August 2015 quarter with the same quarter of 2014, construction output was estimated to have increased by 1.8% and all new work increased by 5.6%, while repair and maintenance decreased by 4.6%.

The UK government reportedly plans to relax planning rules and has promises to build 200,000 affordable homes by 2020, with a Starter Homes scheme planned for England.

Under the Starter Homes scheme, properties must be offered for sale to first-time buyers under 40 years of age only. The homes must be priced at a discount of 20% below market rates, with a GBP450,000 maximum in London and GBP250,000 outside the capital. These buyers would be unable to sell the house for five years.

According to Sky News, critics of the Starter Homes project have suggested that the scheme risks stoking demand rather than desperately-needed supply which has been cited as a core reason for UK house prices continuing to creep up. Charities have argued that the Prime Minister’s demand to create a revolution from “generation rent to generation buy” is irresponsible and firms will look to reach the price limits, leaving the worse off without access to homes.

The construction industry has reportedly welcomed the relaxation of planning laws, but the sector admits that a lack of skilled labour is hampering output growth.