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 Q1 2018 suggests that the UK’s SME construction firms have seen positive figures for workloads, enquiries and expected workloads for the first part of 2018. These have been particularly strong results in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This continued growth means that the SME sector has been growing for five years. However, output prices rising continue to threaten the construction sector, squeezing SME margins and ultimately passing this onto the consumer.