Tracking developments in the UK construction industry
For more than 20 years, the FMB's State of Trade Survey has monitored key indicators and predicted future short-term developments in the UK construction industry. It is the only survey of its kind to focus exclusively on small and medium-sized (SME) firms throughout the construction sector. The survey is dispatched to the entire membership every quarter. Between 300 and 400 responses are received and they are weighted according to turnover.
The typical firm responding is either a general builder or building contractor directly employing ten or fewer people, and turning over between £100,000 and £500,000 per annum. Results are generally reported as percentage balances, as results from qualitative surveys traditionally are. This is the difference between the percentage of respondents stating 'higher' and those replying 'lower' to questions. The magnitude of the balance does not indicate the scale of the change. Instead, the larger the balance, the greater the number of respondents stating either 'higher' or 'lower'.
The latest State of Trade Survey for Q3 2018 suggests that the UK’s SME construction firms have slowdown in growth in the third quarter of the year. Across the home nations, activity rose at a slower pace compared with the previous quarter in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, with Wales being the only home nation to experience activity increasing at a faster rate.
Skills shortages in Q3 2018 have matched their peak seen at the end of last year with record numbers of firms reporting difficulties hiring bricklayers. Added to this, material prices are still a cause for concern with almost 90% of construction SMEs expecting them to increase in the coming months.