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Construction output falls

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RISING costs and uncertainty relating to Brexit are to blame for the sharp drop in output growth in January 2019, the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has said in response to the latest Purchasing Managers’ Index data (PMI).

The Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS) Construction Purchasing Manager’s Index incorporates survey results provided by construction firms throughout the country.

A reading above fifty suggests the construction sector is expanding, while a reading below fifty suggests the construction sector is in contraction.

The January 2019 PMI data revealed a fall from 52.8 in December to 50.6 in January, against the neutral reading of 50.0. January data pointed to a loss of momentum for the UK construction sector, with business activity growth grinding to its weakest for ten months.

All three categories of construction output recorded weaker trends than those reported in December.

Residential work was the strongest performing area, although the latest expansion was only modest and the slowest seen since March 2018. Civil engineering activity increased marginally, with the rate of growth much softer than December’s 19-month high.

Commercial work was the weakest performing area of construction output in January. Latest data indicated a decline in work on commercial construction projects for the first time in ten months. Anecdotal evidence suggested that Brexit-related anxiety and associated concerns about the domestic economic outlook continued to weigh on client demand.

New business growth eased to an eight-month low in January.

Construction firms widely commented on softer demand conditions and longer sales conversion times, reflecting a wait-and-see approach to spending by clients. Concerns about the near-term outlook for new projects resulted in more cautious staff hiring policies at the start of 2019. The latest survey pointed to the slowest rise in employment numbers since July 2016.

However, construction firms remain positive about the outlook for business activity in 2019. Around 41% of the survey panel anticipate a rise in output, while only 16% forecast a fall.

Optimism had, however, fallen month on month. Large-scale civil engineering projects were cited as a key source of optimism, while Brexit uncertainty was the most commonly cited concern.

Tim Moore, Economics Associate Director at IHS Markit, which compiles the survey: “UK construction growth shifted down a gear at the start of 2019, with weaker conditions signalled across all three main categories of activity.

“Commercial work declined for the first time in ten months as concerns about the domestic economic outlook continued to hold back activity.

“The latest survey also revealed a loss of momentum for house building and civil engineering, although these areas of the construction sector at least remained on a modest growth path.”

Duncan Brock, Group Director at the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply said: “The sector suffered a sharp drop in output growth in January, and the softest rise in purchasing volumes since September 2017, as Brexit continues to hamper progress and dampen client confidence.

“The biggest shock came in the form of job creation which has managed to suffer the slings and arrows of Brexit highs and lows with solid hiring since the referendum result. Employment rose at the slowest rate since July 2016 and with optimism also in short supply, the sector only needs a small nudge to tip it closer to a recession.”

Commenting on the results, Brian Berry Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “The latest PMI data show a slowdown in growth in construction with business activity growth easing to its weakest for ten months. The ongoing political uncertainty is partly to blame for this setback.

“Political uncertainty is the enemy of construction firms that rely on the spending power of homeowners to commission home improvement projects. The UK is set to leave the EU next month, and yet we are still none the wiser about what the future holds. Given these intense headwinds, it should not be surprising that the sector suffered such a sharp decline.”

Mr Berry continued: “Alongside the political uncertainty, the cost of doing business is also rising for construction firms up and down the country. Material prices have been rising steadily since the depreciation of sterling following the EU referendum.

“Looking ahead, material prices are expected to continue to cause a headache for the construction industry with recent research from the FMB showing that 87% of builders believe that material prices will rise in the next six months. What’s more the construction skills crisis means that key trades are extremely difficult to recruit and the upshot of this is rising wages in construction.

“Tradespeople know they can command higher salaries than they did previously as workers are scarce, and this means a squeeze in margins for firms. This will only worsen if the post-Brexit immigration system that the Government has planned goes ahead.

“If the sector isn’t able to draw upon crucial EU workers of all skill levels, who have so far served to mitigate this shortage, the slowdown of growth will continue.”

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Business

Admiral is hiring for remote roles in west Wales

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JOIN Admiral, and work from home – no experience necessary!

Wales’ only FTSE 100 company is hiring across Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire right now for remote roles.

Admiral, which is ranked the 5th best workplace in the UK and the 2nd best workplace for women, is looking for residents in Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire to join them as they recruit for remote roles, with full training and equipment provided!

Remote Customer Service Advisor – (Customer Loyalty department) 

The Customer Loyalty department are responsible for looking after their valued customers, whether that’s dealing with queries, finding solutions, changing policy details, or the all-important job of negotiating with those who aren’t satisfied with their renewal quote.

This means they’re looking for those who are resilient and customer focused. You need to be skilled in building relationships, delivering superb customer service and have a willingness to upsell additional products or services. You’ll have the opportunity to make a positive difference in their customers’ lives through the service you provide them, so it’s vital that you value helping others!

You’ll work in a busy environment, likely to take upwards of 50 calls per day, so you’ll need to make lightning-fast decisions to help their valued customers.

Remote Sales Consultant – (New Business department) 

In the New Business department, the culture is the heart of the department. They’re a supportive, fun and innovative team who always strive for the best and celebrate the success of their colleagues. Their standards are high but they’ll ensure everyone is fully supported to enable them to succeed!

A day in the life of a Remote Sales Consultant is centred around customers. You’ll take incoming calls from their customers (no cold-calling) and guide them through the process of setting up insurance and secure them the best deal, all while adding value and providing outstanding service.

This means they’re looking for motivated, confident and resilient people to join the New Business family. You’ll be bringing in brand new customers, so you need to take pride in your work and be able to make a great first impression!

Benefits of working for Admiral 

  • A starting salary of £19,100 plus up to an additional £13,000 in incentives.
  • Full training provided with no experience necessary
  • All equipment provided
  • Fully remote roles – no travel costs or time!
  • Free shares worth £3,600 every year (After 1 year’s service)
  • Full time position with long-term career prospects

Why choose to join Admiral as an employer 

Admiral is an award-winning employer! In 2021, they were named the 5th best workplace in the UK, and 2nd best for women by Great Place to Work, the 5th Best Big Company To Work For in the UK in the Best Companies To Work For list and the 17th Best Multinational Workplace in Europe by Great Place to Work.

They take career progression seriously and really encourage colleagues to take their careers to the next level, providing support along the way.

Admiral is also well known for its share scheme, offering free shares worth £3,600 every year, once you’ve been with them for one year. 

This means receiving dividends twice a year plus the ability to sell your shares after three years, or after five years tax free! It’s a great way to have a real sense of ownership in your role and help drive the business forward. 

If you’re looking for an opportunity to join an award winning, FTSE 100 company then you can apply by following the link www.admiraljobs.co.uk/west.

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Business

Applications open for emergency financial support from Economic Resilience Fund

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Eligible businesses can apply for grants of between £2,500 to £25,000

BUSINESSES in Wales impacted by the rapid spread of the Omicron virus can now apply for emergency financial support from the Welsh Government’s Economic Resilience Fund (ERF).

Economy Minister Vaughan Gething previously said £120 million would be available for retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism business and their supply chains affected by the move to alert level 2 announced by the First Minister on Wednesday 22 December.

Eligible businesses can apply for grants of between £2,500 to £25,000, with grants dependent on their size and number of employees.

The application window will be open for two weeks, with payments starting to reach businesses within days.

Vaughan Gething

Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething, said:

“Following positive engagement with businesses, trades unions and other partners, we recently changed the eligibility criteria for the ERF support. The ERF grant is a Wales-only top up payment that currently supports eligible businesses who have seen a 60% drop in their income between December and February compared with the same period two years ago. The new criteria means that businesses in these sectors who have seen a 50% reduction in their turnover will now also be able to access the ERF.

“This means more businesses will receive more support from the Welsh Government.”

Non-essential retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism businesses in Wales can also receive support from the Non Domestic Rates (NDR) linked grant which is being administered by local authorities. Businesses will be entitled to a payment of £2,000, £4,000 or £6,000 depending on their rateable value.

Local authorities are also administrating a discretionary fund for sole traders, freelancers and taxi drivers and businesses that employ people but do not pay business rates. Last week this was doubled to £1,000.

The Welsh Government has provided in excess of £2.5bn funding to Welsh businesses since the start of the pandemic. Focused particularly on backing small businesses and Welsh communities, it’s targeted approach has helped protect in excess of 160,000 Welsh jobs which might otherwise have been lost.

Apply for Economic Resilience Fund support here:

COVID-19 Support for Business | Business Wales (gov.wales)

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Business

Businesses will soon be able to access funding from the Welsh Government

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BUSINESSES in Pembrokeshire which have been impacted by the move to Alert Level 2 Covid-19 measures in Wales will soon be able to register or apply for Welsh Government funding.

The First Minister announced a £120m package of support for nightclubs, events, retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism businesses and their supply chains, impacted by the move to Alert Level 2.

An eligibility checker for businesses has now gone live.

Businesses are urged to check their eligibility at: https://fundchecker.businesswales.gov.wales/businesssupport?_ga=2.234856926.1944247233.1641292011-360841121.1641292011

The above link also features further information and a series of FAQs about the latest round of support.

The funding will take the form of three elements.

Non Domestic Rates (NDR) linked funding of up to £6,000.

Retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism business who pay Non Domestic Rates will be entitled to a payment of £2,000, £4,000 or £6,000 depending on their rateable value.

Businesses will need to re-register their details with Pembrokeshire County Council through an online process in order to receive their payments.

The Council will also deliver a discretionary fund to support sole traders, freelancers and businesses who don’t pay rates, with funding of £500 – £2000.

The Local Authority discretionary fund will be via a short application process with sole traders, freelancers and taxi drivers able to apply for £500 and businesses that employ people but do not pay business rates will be able to apply for £2,000.

Pembrokeshire County Council plans to open the schemes on Monday 10th January for the NDR related fund and Monday 17th January for the Discretionary fund.

See notes below for further information on the way the NDR linked grant and discretionary fund will be allocated.

The third element of the funding is a reopening of the Welsh Government’s Economic Resilience Fund (ERF).

On top of NDR based funding, this will see funds of up to £25,000 made available for severely impacted hospitality and leisure businesses – and their supply chains.

As with previous ERF rounds, this will support businesses who have seen a reduction in their turnover of more than 60%.

Details of the application and registration process will be published on the Authority’s Business Advice and Support pages: https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/business-advice-and-support

The funding package is designed to support businesses impacted by the spread of Omicron through the period 13 December 2021 to 14 February 2022.

Please note that as a result of the new emergency support packages, the Welsh Government is withdrawing its £35m Business Support Fund, announced in November, in order to process emergency payments as soon as possible.

Any expressions of interest received will be notified of this directly.

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