The rise in construction output, the highest since August 2021, masks falling optimism and a drop in residential construction activity, warns the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) in response to the latest construction PMI data.

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB said: “Construction output has been sustained during March through the buoyancy of commercial projects, but the latest PMI data makes clear that growth in the repair, maintenance, and improvement (RMI) and house building sectors has stalled. For smaller construction firms, these projects represent the bread and butter for their businesses. Faced with rampant inflationary pressures and significant uncertainty regarding the economic impact of the war in Ukraine, it’s clear that these smaller building firms look set to suffer at a time when consumers are tightening their belts.”

Berry continued: “After a testing period during the pandemic and with business optimism now at a 17-month low, the Government should take a proactive approach to reduce the difficulties. A measure that would act as a boost for builders and reduce long terms costs for consumers would be the introduction of a National Retrofit Strategy. This would create demand for retrofit projects, that local builders will then deliver and cut energy bills for customers. Additionally, with the pace of job creation easing to its weakest level so far this year, attention must be given to encouraging greater numbers of employers to train young people into construction careers.”

Notes to editors

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) is the largest trade association in the UK construction industry representing thousands of firms in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Established in 1941 to protect the interests of small and medium-sized (SME) construction firms, the FMB is independent and non-profit making, lobbying for members’ interests at both the national and local level.

The FMB is a source of knowledge, professional advice and support for its members, providing a range of modern and relevant business building services to help them succeed. The FMB is committed to raising quality in the construction industry and offers a free Find a Builder service to consumers.