Northern Ireland

NI construction recovery continues according to RICS survey

Construction worker on scaffold Image copyright AFP
Image caption The UK as a whole has seen an increase in construction work

The recovery in the NI construction sector continued in the final quarter of 2013, according to a survey.

Among those responding to the Royal Institute for Chartered Surveyors (RICS) survey, more reported workloads were rising rather than falling.

The positive balance of +13 was the highest since the final quarter of 2007.

Despite the improvement over the past six months, NI continues to lag behind the rest of the UK.

RICS Northern Ireland construction spokesman, Jim Sammon, said: "In recent months, there has been evidence of improvement in the local economy, and the picture in the construction industry has been improving as well.

"However, this is growth from a low base, following a long period of contraction, and the key challenges for the sector locally remain.

"These include limited access to finance, constrained public sector demand and challenges with procurement and planning."

The construction sector in Northern Ireland has been the hardest hit part of the local economy,

Since 2007, the industry has shrunk by a third with the loss of 30,000 jobs.

New data shows that, despite some improvement, Northern Ireland is still the worst-performing UK region in the construction sector.

According to the latest Rics (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) construction market survey, Northern Ireland's construction downturn is easing.

Despite the improvement in the rate of decline, activity is still falling.

The UK as a whole has seen rising activity.

London and the south east of England are the best-performing region.

Jim Sammon, from Rics Northern Ireland, welcomed the improvements.

"Whilst the rate of decline in workloads has eased significantly, workloads are still falling, and we remain some way from a recovery," he said.

"The key challenges for the sector remain. Finance is constrained, private sector activity remains scarce and public sector demand remains constrained."

Mr Sammon urged the Northern Ireland Executive to take action in relation to increase capital spending on infrastructure.

"Beyond being a driver of growth, infrastructure is the fabric of our everyday lives that must remain efficient and well maintained," he said.

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