Construction output grew by 1.6% in February 2021, largely thanks to a 1.5% increase in new work and 1.9% increase in repair and maintenance, as the industry maintains its recovery
The level of construction output in February 2021 was 4.3% below the February 2020 level, while new work was 7.8% below the February 2020 level, according to the latest ONS figures.
The monthly increase in new work (1.5%) in February 2021 was because of growth in all new work sectors apart from infrastructure, which fell by 3.4% – the largest contributor to this growth was private commercial new work, which grew by 4.0%.
The monthly increase in repair and maintenance (1.9%) in February 2021 was due to growth in private and non-housing repair and maintenance, which grew by 4.7% and 2.6% respectively, offsetting the 8.6% fall in public housing repair and maintenance.
Construction output fell by 1.0% in the three months to February 2021 compared with the previous three-month period, because of a 1.6% fall in new work and 0.1% fall in repair and maintenance.
Following revisions in this release, 2020 annual construction growth has been revised down 1.5% to an annual decline of 14.0% – this is now the largest decline in annual growth since annual records began in 1997.
New work and repair and maintenance both contributed to the increase in the level of all work in February 2021 though only repair and maintenance has recovered above its pre-pandemic level.
Construction output grew by 1.6% (£213m) in February 2021 compared with January 2021 because of monthly growth in all sectors, except infrastructure and public housing repair and maintenance.
Despite the 3.4% monthly fall in infrastructure output in February 2021 it remains the only new work sector above its pre-pandemic level.
Repair and maintenance output grew by 1.9% (£91m) in February 2021 thanks to increases in both private and non-housing repair and maintenance, which grew 4.7% (£83m) and 2.6% (£64m) respectively.
Public housing was the only repair and maintenance sector in February 2021 to be below its February 2020 pre-pandemic level.
‘A roadmap out of the crisis’
Fraser Johns, finance director at Beard, said: “There is a lot of optimism around this week, and rightly so with the reopening of our retail sector and a successful vaccine rollout.
“The highest level of growth month-on-month since September at 1.6% certainly provides hope that we are heading in the right direction in terms of a roadmap out of the crisis. And compared to the rate of growth of the economy overall at 0.4%, the construction sector has performed well.
“However, in the three months to February output actually fell by 1% and the month was 4.3% down on the same point last year.
“We also had the warning from the Construction Leadership Council last week that shortages of building products and materials are set to get worse before they get better.”
Clive Docwra, managing director of property and construction consultancy McBains, added: “Today’s figures are another sign that construction industry is maintaining its recovery following the downturn over the last year.
“Confidence is still fragile in some work sectors, but there’s a definite feeling of the glass being half full, rather than half empty.
“Especially cheering is the growth in private commercial new work, which grew by 4%, suggesting that order books are beginning to be filled on a more regular basis.
“Projects in many sectors have been paused while lockdown measures have been in place, but the lifting this week of restrictions in retail, hospitality and leisure will hopefully also kick-start investment in construction within these industries.”