Fragile signs of growth in civil engineering may be crushed if the government pulls funding on public sector infrastructure projects, say contractors.
The Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) Workload Trends survey into the last quarter of 2011 found that 5% of respondents reported increasing workloads – for the first time in three years.
The government has said infrastructure is crucial to returning the UK to growth and chancellor George Osborne in his autumn statement pledged extra funding for key projects.
But concern has arisen as the trends survey showed that the improvements in the fourth quarter were driven by activity in the regulated sectors — such as rail, water and sewerage — which are at, or near, the peak of their spending cycles. Activity around publically funded road projects continues to fall.
“Our concern is that as spending in these areas falls away over the coming months, there may not be sufficient activity elsewhere to sustain workloads,” said CECA director of external affairs Alasdair Reisner. “For this reason it is essential that the government holds firm on its commitments to infrastructure made at the autumn statement. By doing so it will help secure vital contributions to growth, while supporting the future of the UK’s infrastructure supply chain.”