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Brexit uncertainty constrains construction sector optimism

The uncertain outlook for the UK economy has led to reduced optimism, according to the results of the Q3 2019 RICS UK Construction and Infrastructure Market Survey. Anecdotal evidence from respondents suggests that the housing market slowdown, coupled with unrelenting Brexit and political uncertainty, is weighing on investment decisions.

The survey results point to a notable deceleration in workloads, this quarter, with only a net balance of +10% reporting an increase in total workloads, down on average from +33% between 2013 and Q2 2016.

Breaking this down, workloads in the commercial and industrial sectors are at a near standstill, with infrastructure reporting the strongest rise, a net balance of +18% more respondents citing an increase rather than a decrease in infrastructure workloads (compared to +20% in Q2).

Activity in both private and public housing has eased with net balances of +14% and +11%, respectively, (down from +26% and +22% in Q2). Workloads for the year ahead however, remain positive with respondents expecting the private housing and infrastructure sectors to be the most resilient.

Jeffrey Matsu, RICS chief economist, comments: “As the country heads to its third general election in five years, the mood across the sector is relatively downbeat. However, while the pace of construction activity has moderated since the referendum, order books remain full as surveyors work through a backlog of previous projects.”

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