Construction takes a downturn< Back to Blog

JCB-pic_1Figures just published reveal that construction output fell by 2% in the three months up until November last year – making it the biggest quarterly decline the industry has seen since 2012.

This is set against a climate in which UK manufacturing is expanding to a point where it has reached its highest output level for 10 years.

While analysts claim manufacturing is effectively being boosted by the weaker pound and global growth, sadly the same cannot be said of construction.


Within the industry, every category of work (e.g. private industrial, private commercial, public housing) showed a decline in output, with the only exception being private housebuilding which showed a small increase. New work in the private commercial category took the biggest hit – 5.4% lower in the three months up to November last year than the prior three months.

In a report to the BBC, Samuel Tombs, Chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said: “Looking ahead, Brexit uncertainty is likely to continue to hit commercial projects, while the planned 4.5% decline in public sector investment in 2018/19 will additionally dampen the sector.”

Mr Tombs is certainly not the only one to draw troublesome lines between Brexit and problems for construction. After crunching government numbers from the ONS, Price Waterhouse Coopers reported on the issues they could foresee arising from Brexit in relation to the continuing skills crisis in construction.

Discovering that 10% of the UK’s current construction workforce were born in European Economic Area countries (a figure that rises to 30% in the capital), the report stated:

“London’s construction sector could be particularly hard hit by reduced EU migration: 30% of construction workers in London were EEA migrants in 2016, while a fifth of UK-born construction workers in the capital are due to retire in the next five years and there are currently around 60,000 vacancies in the industry in London.”

Sheriff is currently fortunate to be in a position of growth and has ongoing vacancies for qualified tradespeople. But, having pulled through more troubling times in the past, we’re well aware of how a downturn can affect our industry and we wish everyone well.

If you’re a bricklayer or flat-roofer looking for work right now, we may be able to help. Get in touch via