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Civils decline leads gloomy January data

The Glenigan Index reported that 2013 has got off to a weak start. With output for the three months to January down 18% compared to the same period a year ago.

The fall in activity was led by the infrastructure and utilities sectors, their decline exaggerated by the particularly strong start to 2012, when projects were scheduled to ensure preparations were ready in time for the summer’s Olympic Games.

“The start to 2013 has been somewhat disappointing, January tends to be a strong month but that is not the case this year. Compared to last year it’s possible that the declines can in part be attributed to an Olympic related boost in the January 2012 start data. Poor weather will also have delayed planned project starts. Even so we would expect January to be better than December and that simply isn’t the case this time around,” said Glenigan economist Andrew Whiffin.

The fall in starts was led by the infrastructure sector, which for the three months to January were down 44% compared to the same period last year. Declines in the sector were particularly bad in the South East of England where new work was down by 80% over the same period, Scotland and the East Midlands also experienced similar declines in the sector.

Private residential starts were also poor, especially considering the strong run the sector had at the end of last year; starts were down 4% for the three months to January compared to the same period of 2012.

“Private residential starts were disappointing in January, especially when the raft of government measures to promote activity are taken into account. However this month’s fall is relatively small and we expect activity in the sector to pick up in the coming months.” Whiffin continued.

The slowdown in public sector new work also continued into January; education starts were down 15% and health starts down 22%.

However, the social housing sector, when compared to last year, was up 1%.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Fiona Russell-Horne
Editor-in-Chief across the BMJ portfolio.

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