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Gloomy outlook for construction firms

A survey has found Scottish construction firms’ outlook on the coming year is anxious, following a bleak 2009.

Almost 80% say they are less confident, or no more confident, about the outlook for their firm for the next 12 months than the year now ending.

The finding came in the quarterly survey of the Scottish Building Federation’s membership of more than 700 firms.

The federation said 2009 was generally recognised as one of the worst-ever for the sector, with thousands of jobs lost and many firms bankrupted by the recession.

Federation chief executive Michael Levack said: “It’s clear that the Scottish construction industry remains extremely anxious about what 2010 has in store. Recovery in the building sector is likely to be particularly slow.

“Whatever Government money is made available for construction in next year’s Budget needs to be fast-tracked to the front line so that it has maximum impact on helping the industry to retain jobs, apprenticeships and capacity.”

The survey also found small building firms are shunning the opportunity to bid for public sector contracts because of the high costs involved.

Fewer than one in six small firms with a turnover below £500,000 took part in a public sector contract bid over the last year, compared to three out of four of the biggest firms with a turnover above £5 million.

But the small firms that bid for public work had a success rate of 71%, while the bigger firms won only one in five of the work they bid for.

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