Fall in private sector activity drives construction slump in early 2018

Media Release – 19 July 2018 – NO EMBARGO


Fall in private sector activity drives construction slump in early 2018

Official statistics published today reveal that construction output in Northern Ireland in the first quarter of 2018 fell 6 per cent over the last 12 months. The reduction in output was entirely driven by a marked slump in private sector activity which was 12 per cent down on the same quarter in 2017. Public sector work showed an increase of 3 per cent over the same period.

These figures are a stark contrast to the more positive indications in the other parts of Ireland and the UK.  Over the same 12 months the Central Statistics Office in Dublin reported a 21 per cent increase in the volume of output in the building sector in the Republic of Ireland. Whilst in Great Britain, the Office for National Statistics, reported growth of approximately 0.5 per cent over the year.

RSUA Director, Ciarán Fox, said: “The significant fall in private sector construction activity in Northern Ireland is another alarm bell for the wider economy. It suggests that Brexit and the absence of devolved Government has knocked private sector confidence and that investment is being held back as a result.”

“Whilst public sector output has held up well over the last year we have serious concerns about the next 12 months due to uncertainty over which publicly funded projects are going to proceed to design stage and then on to site.”

“It is now vitally important that public sector clients provide specific details of which construction projects can proceed without Ministerial approval and which ones cannot.”

The NI Construction Bulletin only reports on construction activity in Northern Ireland and does not cover the extensive range of projects being undertaken by Northern Irish architects and builders in other parts of the UK and Ireland.

Mr Fox continues, “Despite the uncertainty in the local market, employment in the construction sector is up 8 per cent over the 12 months to Q1 2018. This is most likely due to the continued success of local businesses in winning work outside Northern Ireland.”


Contact Details:

Emmet McDonough-Brown, RSUA Communications and Events Officer
(Tel: 07849956911, e-mail: emmet@rsua.org.uk)

Notes to editor:

  1. The Royal Society of Ulster Architects (RSUA) is the professional body for chartered architects in Northern Ireland with c.800 chartered members.
  2. NISRA publish their construction output statistics on a quarterly basis at https://www.nisra.gov.uk/statistics/economic-output-statistics/construction-output-statistics
  3. CSO figures are available at https://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/er/pbci/productioninbuildingandconstructionindexquarter12018/
  4. ONS figures are available at https://www.ons.gov.uk/businessindustryandtrade/constructionindustry/bulletins/constructionoutputingreatbritain/may2018
  5. NI Statistics and Research Agency’s Quarterly Employment Survey https://www.nisra.gov.uk/publications/quarterly-employment-survey-supplementary-tables-march-2018