Brexit concerns lead to slowdown in construction industry

Growth in construction is slipping amid concerns about the EU referendum.

Growth in construction is slipping amid concerns about the EU referendum. - Credit: PA

Growth in the UK’s construction industry was its weakest for almost three years in May amid “heightened uncertainty” over the EU referendum.

The closely-watched Markit/CIPS construction purchasing managers’ index (PMI) showed a reading of 51.2 last month, down from 52 in April. A reading above 50 indicates expansion.

The report revealed that incoming new work had also slipped back for the first time since April 2013.

It comes after PMI data on Wednesday showed the manufacturing sector eked out modest growth in May after a shock contraction in April, but remained close to stagnation as Brexit fears hit activity.

Tim Moore, senior Markit economist, said construction companies were facing a “challenging” second quarter, hampered by “growth headwinds” across the sector.

He added: “May data signalled the worst month for commercial building since June 2013, while residential work and civil engineering activity both saw a renewed loss of momentum.

“Survey respondents noted that the forthcoming EU referendum has disrupted new order flows and the timing of client decision making in particular.

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“Heightened uncertainty and subdued general economic conditions in turn contributed to the first outright fall in new work received by construction firms for just over three years.”

David Noble, group chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply, said the industry was taking “residence in a waiting room of non-activity, as continuing poor global economic conditions and uncertainty around the EU referendum impacted growth and new orders”.