Floods and appalling rain dampens surge in construction work

THE recent surge in house building slowed last month as the extreme wet weather and flooding dampened activity on construction sites across the country.

Figures from the closely-watched Markit/CIPS purchasing managers’ index (PMI) showed growth in residential construction eased to its slowest pace for four months in February.

The lower level of growth in house building saw expansion in the overall construction sector pull back last month, with a reading of 62.6 down from the near six-and-a-half-year high of 64.6 recorded in January.

But the reading remained firmly above the 50 mark separating growth from contraction and means the sector has now expanded for 10 months in a row, according to the survey data.

David Noble, chief executive at the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply (CIPS), said: “Bad weather took a bite out of progress in house building, but UK construction remains on a strong growth trajectory in February.”

Commercial building activity also took a hit last month, with growth at the slowest pace since November.

But construction firms saw local authorities boost spending on maintenance and other projects in response to recent flooding and weather conditions.

Civil engineering activity also softened the blow after its orders expanded at their steepest pace since 1997.

Howard Archer, chief UK economist at IHS Global Insight, said the upturn in the construction sector was “very much intact” despite the wet weather.

He said that any hit to construction activity in February from the flooding will be delayed rather than lost.