Building material shortages 'easing'
Shortages of building materials affecting the recovery of the construction industry are beginning to ease, a survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors shows.
The research showed that while some construction firms are still experiencing problems sourcing materials, the situation has improved since last year, when 60% of respondents said their projects were constrained by materials shortages. In the second quarter of 2015, this figure fell to 40%, suggesting that lack of supplies is becoming less of an issue.
Construction workloads rose in the second quarter of this year, with 44% more surveyors reporting higher activity levels, up from 37% in the previous quarter.
This has been attributed to an increase in office developments and private house-building.
The survey shows that workloads have risen across all sectors and in every region of the UK. More than half (51%) of respondents reported higher workloads in private housing and 58% in the private commercial sector. This follows a 22% rise in new orders compared with the first quarter of 2015.
Activity in London and the South East is stronger than elsewhere in the UK, with profits and employment expectations higher there.
The upturn in construction workloads has led to a less competitive tendering environment, particularly across public sector projects, according to the RICS.
However, a growing concern is lack of accessible finance, which affects 58% of members. And although worries about labour shortages have dipped, the demand for cost and project management skills has risen.
As workloads recover, other barriers to growth apart from labour and finance constraints have begun to emerge, such as planning and regulatory issues. It is feared these could worsen if cuts are made to council planning departments as backlogs in applications will affect construction schedules.