Growth in the UK’s construction sector continued to grow in December, but is now at its slowest pace since September 2021, as firms said that rising cases of COVID-19 and new restrictions have ‘held back’ recovery in the sector.

The Guardian reports that according to the IHS Markit CIPS UK Construction purchasing managers’ index hit a reading of 54.3 in December 2021, which was down from 55.5 in November. Any reading above 50 is seen as growth.

A consensus of analysts had forecast a reading of 54 for the month.

The slowdown of construction growth came as the government implanted its Plan B restrictions that told people to work from home where possible, following a surge in cases of the Omicron variant.

Tim Moore, a director at IHS Markit, said: “UK construction companies ended last year on a slightly weaker footing as renewed pandemic restrictions held back the recovery, especially in commercial work and civil engineering.”

He said that some firms had commented on disruptions arising from rising cases of COVID-19, and others said there was a lack of new work to sustain the growth rates seen earlier in 2021.

The figures revealed that civil engineering firms reported a slight decline in work for the month, with a 49.1 reading ending a nine-month period of growth, while the commercial building sector also saw growth slow as it reported its weakest figures for three months.

However, residential construction firms reported an improvement in momentum over recent months.

Some companies expressed some optimism as they reported a decline in supplier delays, with 34 per cent of residents reporting delays, compared to 47 per cent in December.

New order volumes were also their strongest since August and helped to boost employment numbers for the month.

 

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