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Scottish construction held afloat by public spending

Publicly-funded projects are keeping the Scottish construction industry afloat, new research suggests, making the future of the sector precarious as public spending cuts are expected.

Public-funded construction projects are helping to keep the Scottish construction industry afloat, a study by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) found today.

RICS say total workloads in Scotland in both the public and private sector fell marginally in the last quarter of 2009.

Some areas of the market stabilised, such as public-funded non-housing building works, but activity in most other sectors continues to fall.

The biggest decline in work, compared with the previous quarter, is in the private commercial sector.

The surveyors said the outlook for the next few months is not encouraging and wants the Government and the banks to address the problem.

A RICS Scotland spokesperson said: “Construction projects in Scotland remain low and it is public sector workload which is keeping the industry afloat.

“However with uncertainty over future funding from the Government for new public sector projects, some chartered surveyors expect even less new construction work to start in Scotland in 2010.

“We need the Scottish Government to commit to funding and for banks to start lending on reasonable terms,” she said.

Just 1% of chartered surveyors in the construction industry reported difficulty in recruiting tradespeople in Scotland. This is a major drop on two years ago when 55% reported a shortage, though a year ago none reported a shortage.

The survey said “workload expectations” for the next 12 months deteriorated.

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