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Civils firms warn sector’s boom has ‘fizzled out’

Flickr/ Dean Hochman

Civil engineering companies have said that growth in the sector is flatlining, according to the first poll since the EU referendum.

In the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) quarterly Workload Trends survey, six out of ten sub-sectors reported falling workloads in Q2 2016, meaning the balance of workloads increased to just 2% of all the firms surveyed. It’s the lowest balance for three years and compares to a balance of 20% in Q1 of this year.

The gas sector was particularly hard hit with 75% of firms reporting a fall in workload, taking their workload balance below levels not seen since 2005. Highways, waterways, airports and water and sewage all reported a drop in workloads, however there were increases for communications, electricity, railways and preliminary works.

The survey respondents also reported continuing difficulties in finding skilled employees, with 43% saying there’s a dissatisfactory supply of staff and 34% saying there’s a dissatisfactory supply of skilled operatives.

CECA chief executive Alasdair Reisner said: “These results spell real trouble for the UK economy, and should act as a major warning sign to policymakers.

“We know that infrastructure investment is a driver of economic growth. Given the recent disappointing economic forecasts following the Brexit vote, our figures show that the market is slowing just as the country needs it to speed up.

“The new Government can’t afford to sit on its hands. There are existing committed programmes of work where we need to see the delivery of schemes - now - if this situation is to be reversed.

“Unless the Government kicks on to get spades in the ground, we will be looking at a dramatic slowdown in growth, which is bad news for the 200,000 people who work in our sector, and bad news for the economy as a whole.”

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