Build­ing firms are boom­ing, says FMB

The Oban Times - - BUSINESS -

SMALL and medium Scot­tish con­struc­tion work­loads rose faster than at any time since the 2007 fi­nan­cial cri­sis, the Fed­er­a­tion of Master Builders (FMB) Scot­land has said.

Key re­sults from the FMB’s State of Trade Sur­vey for the first quar­ter of 2017, which is the largest quar­terly as­sess­ment of the UK-wide SME con­struc­tion sec­tor, in­clude:

■ Scot­tish con­struc­tion SME work­loads rose faster than at any time since Q4 2007;

■ One in two con­struc­tion SMEs pre­dict ris­ing work­loads in the com­ing months, with just five per cent pre­dict­ing a de­crease in ac­tiv­ity;

■ How­ever, 85 per cent of builders believe that ma­te­rial prices will rise in the next three months;

■ 58 per cent of firms are strug­gling to hire car­pen­ters, the high­est re­ported level since the fi­nan­cial cri­sis.

Gor­don Nel­son, firec­tor of FMB Scot­land, said: ‘Scot­tish con­struc­tion SME work­loads have now risen for five con­sec­u­tive quar­ters and, rather than ta­per­ing off in ad­vance of Ar­ti­cle 50 be­ing served, that growth seems to have ac­cel­er­ated in the first quar­ter of this year. At a time of grow­ing con­cern about the strength of the Scot­tish econ­omy, the ro­bust­ness of the con­struc­tion SME sec­tor is a def­i­nite good news story. Even more en­cour­ag­ingly, the num­ber of in­quiries for fu­ture work has risen solidly and one in two firms are now pre­dict­ing that their work­loads will con­tinue to rise in the com­ing months.’

Mr Nel­son con­tin­ued: ‘This is not to say that the past three months have been with­out their chal­lenges. Builders have experienced sharp rises in ma­te­rial prices since the de­pre­ci­a­tion of ster­ling in June last year and the sub­se­quent spike in the cost of im­ported ma­te­ri­als and prod­ucts.

‘Added to this is the ris­ing cost of skilled labour which con­tin­ues to be ex­ac­er­bated by the ever-wors­en­ing skills short­age. The over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of builders ex­pect these trends to con­tinue, re­sult­ing in fur­ther in­creases in out­put prices in the next quar­ter – in lay­man’s terms, this means that builders will have to pass on these costs to the con­sumer.’

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