20/05/2011

Construction Industry 'Declines Further'

Northern Ireland's construction industry has continued to suffer significantly from cuts in public spending and the wider economic malaise during the first quarter of 2011.

Construction activity continued to fall significantly in first few months of the year, according to the RICS Construction Market Survey.

Northern Ireland remains the UK region with the largest number of construction sector chartered surveyors experiencing declining workloads, with a net balance of -68, compared to a UK average of +5.

This was a deterioration from the final quarter of 2010 when the balance was -52.

The net balances for workload expectations, employment expectations and profit expectations remain deeply negative, according to the survey. No respondents to the survey reported blue collar shortages.

RICS Northern Ireland Sonstruction spokesman, Jim Sammon, said that it is important the new Executive puts in place measures to support the continued investment in Northern Ireland's infrastructure.

"Whilst the outlook remains very challenging, there are things that can be done to create an enabling environment for the construction sector. These include the fast-tracking of economically important planning applications, and introducing domestic water charging to help ensure that money is available for capital spending.

"Joined up working in government is also extremely important to ensure that an efficient and prioritised investment strategy that delivers where and when it is needed.

"The reform of public sector procurement also needs to continue to enhance transparency and maximise awareness of the opportunities for local suppliers and contractors," said Mr Sammon.

In advance of the Assembly election, RICS Northern Ireland recently launched its own manifesto 'Creating a Vibrant and Sustainable Economy', which set out the organisation's positions on key policy areas.

These include calling for reform of the planning system, including the fast-tracking of renewable energy projects and projects that are of significant economic importance; the continued reform of public sector procurement to enhance transparency and to maximise opportunities for local suppliers and contractors; and for government departments and Executive Ministers to work in a joined up manner to create a prioritised and efficient investment strategy that delivers infrastructure where and when it is needed.

(GK/BMcC)

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