News still negative for building industry

The construction industry downturn in the province which has left hundreds of local people out of work may be easing but workloads are still falling.

There was little good news for the large number of local people who were once employed in the province’s booming building sector in the latest report from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors Market Survey.

In the three months to the end of June, the balance for workloads in Northern Ireland improved to -4, its best level since the start of 2008, from -32 in the previous three months.

However, despite the improvement, it seems activity was still falling and NI is still the worst performing UK region.

The picture for the UK as a whole was one of broad-based improvement in market sentiment and rising activity.

The headline UK balance reached its best reading since Q1 2007 and this was mirrored across most of the subsectors and the regions.

The best performing regional grouping was London and the South East.

RICS Northern Ireland construction spokesman, Jim Sammon, welcomed the improvements in Northern Ireland.

However, he added: “Whilst the rate of decline in workloads has eased significantly, workloads are still falling, and we remain some way from a recovery.

“The key challenges for the sector remain. Finance is constrained, private sector activity remains scarce, and public sector demand remains constrained.

“We would urge the NI Executive to take action in relation to increasing infrastructure spending in Northern Ireland by moving more money from current to capital spending.

“Beyond being a driver of growth, infrastructure is the fabric of our everyday lives that must remain efficient and well maintained.”

In terms of expectations for workloads 12 months ahead, the balance for Northern Ireland remained negative at -17, an improvement from -46 the previous quarter.