Winter storms and floods caused slump in construction industry

House building and infrastructure held back by wettest weather since 1766

Economics Editor

Builders were forced to down tools by February’s floods and storms, official statistics showed yesterday.

Total output fell by 2.8 per cent from January as exceptionally bad weather afflicted large areas of the country, according to the Office for National Statistics. Private house building was the worst affected, shrinking by 6.3 per cent on January. Infrastructure was also hit hard, sliding by 3.7 per cent.

However, the construction setback followed a 2.1 per cent increase in output in January and activity remains 2.8 per cent higher than in the same month a year ago. Over the three months to February output was up 0.3 per cent on the preceding quarter and industry surveys suggest that building activity recovered in March.

“Construction output will hopefully have seen a marked rebound in March, given the much better weather and seemingly healthy underlying business,” Howard Archer of IHS Global Insight, said.

The construction sector, which accounts for just over 6 per cent of the economy, has been boosted over the past year by a sharp recovery in house prices and the Government’s mortgage and building subsidies.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors reported this week that the housing boom, which had previously been concentrated on London and the South-east, is now spreading across the country. Nationwide this month also reported a national rise in average house prices in March of 9.5 per cent on a year earlier.

In 2013 construction helped to lift overall GDP growth to 1.7 per cent, the strongest performance since 2007. But analysts cautioned that the sector was now unlikely to contribute to growth in the first quarter of 2014.

“Even if we get a reasonable bounceback in March, today’s figure should hold back overall growth,” Alan Clarke of Scotiabank said.

The ONS’s preliminary estimate for first-quarter GDP growth will be released on 29 April, with some economists expecting an increase in total output of as much as 1 per cent, up from 0.7 per cent in the final quarter of last year.

Construction output fell by a fifth in the 2008/09 recession. There was a partial recovery in 2010 and 2011 before activity slumped again in 2012.

Output still remains 13 per cent below its peak in the first quarter of 2008.  The winter was the wettest in England and Wales since records began in 1766.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Digital Optimisation Executive - Marketing

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's fastest growing, multi...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Reporting Manager

£70000 - £90000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Financial Reporting Manager i...

Recruitment Genius: Payments Operations Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...

Recruitment Genius: Telephone Debt Negotiator

£13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her in Latakia
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report