The chairman of the Construction Products Association, Adrian Barden, has written to Lord Mandelson to warn of more major industry job losses and to urge him to ensure the government delivers the construction programmes it has already committed to.
Barden said: “It is essential the government keeps to its programme for investment in construction projects, such as schools, hospitals, social housing and infrastructure so as to sustain employment and economic activity to deliver the projects that provide a lasting and beneficial legacy.
“Output in some parts of the construction products industry has fallen by nearly 50% in the last 12 months and more than 60,000 jobs had been lost by the end of 2008. A further 9,000 job cuts have subsequently been announced and some 12,000 people in the industry are on short time working. The scale of job losses is staggering. This is ten times the number of jobs estimated to have been lost in car manufacturing.
“In addition, it is proving increasingly difficult for companies to raise capital and to renew finance facilities with the banks. Capital investment by our member companies has all but ceased and credit insurance is rapidly disappearing. All of which is having a particularly detrimental impact on SMEs.’
Key findings from the Office of National Statistics on construction output are:
The industry lost £1.4bn of construction work in the final quarter of 2008 compared to the previous quarter; a 7% fall, which is the largest fall in output since 1980
Private housing output fell by 13% compared to the third quarter of 2008; the largest fall since the first quarter of 1991 during the last recession
Output in the commercial sector fell 11% during the final quarter of 2008 compared to the previous quarter; the largest fall since 2001