The Spring report from the Construction Products Association (CPA) predicts double digit growth in UK construction, albeit with certain risks remaining.
The Construction sector and its supply chain fared better than other industries during lockdown, of course. The CPA Spring report forecasts that the upward trend will continue, although it will be 2022 before the sector returns to pre-COVID levels. It also highlights certain risks that threaten the recovery, such as ongoing bottlenecks and rising costs for imported goods, and uncertainties in the new build, repairs and mainenance, and commercial properties spaces.
The CPA's growth figures are duly revised both up and down compared to its Winter report. Construction output is now forecast to rise by 12.9% in 2021 and 5.2% in 2022 , which compares to 14.0% and 4.9% in 2022 as previously predicted. The downward revision in 2021 reflects a higher base for construction output in 2020, with official data reporting a smaller fall than initially anticipated of 12.5% in 2020 compared to 2019.
Commenting on the Spring Forecast, CPA Economics Director Noble Francis, said: “Whilst outlook is largely positive, the recovery in commercial – the third-largest construction sector – is expected to be muted given a lack of major investment in new projects, particularly in Central London. Questions remain over future demand of commercial space, particularly in offices and retail, which may be converted into residential or warehousing and logistics, if homeworking and online spending persists in the long-term.
“More notably, however, there are significant risks to the recovery in the form of supply constraints in terms of extended lead times and sharp rises in costs for vital imported products such as paints and varnishes, timber, roofing materials, copper, steel and polymers. This may hinder the ability of construction activity to increase in line with our forecast. Furthermore, concerns remain whether the high levels of demand for housing new build and rm&i can be maintained after the government stimulus and policy measures end on 30 September, particularly the furloughing and self-employment income schemes and stamp duty holiday.”