Construction output growth offset by fall in RMI

Following a December lull, the construction sector showed signs of recovery from Covid, growing by nearly 1 per cent in January 2021, according to new ONS data. However, repair and maintenance fell by 4.7 per cent in private housing in the same period.

The ONS reported that construction output grew by 1.7 per cent in the three months to January, compared with the previous quarter, due to growth in new work (2.2 per cent) and RMI (0.8 per cent).

Despite the fall in repair and maintenance in January, all RMI sectors “still remain above the February 2020 pre-coronavirus level,” said the Government. In comparison, infrastructure was the “only new work sector where the level of work had recovered above the February 2020 level.”

Andrew Shepherd, managing director at modular housing firm TopHat, commented that modular offsite could be critical to filling construction jobs, which would be essential to the country’s recovery from the pandemic.

“Construction certainly has a role to play here, but the sector has been facing a skills shortage for years now which will be hard to reverse quickly. This is where modular housing can step in and help provide jobs across the skills spectrum, and in areas of the country that the government wants to level-up.”

“If support for modular housing sees the sector grow, some reports reckon it could provide 50,000 high productivity and quality jobs. That’s nearly a third of jobs directly involved in car making.”

“Compared to the automotive industry, modular housing in the UK is still in its infancy,” he added.