Civil engineering contractors have reported early signs that the infrastructure-driven economic recovery in Britain is underway, but they also warned growing demand is driving up costs.
Results from the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA)’s Workload Trends Survey for the first quarter of 2021 showed that workloads rose in annual terms according to 29% of British firms, the highest balance in six years.
Order books increased for 26% of British firms and 47% expect increased workloads during the next twelve months, also the highest balances in six years.
This was offset by 29% of British firms who cited issues with the supply of materials and products, the highest proportion in recent years.
More than 80% of survey respondents reported that their costs had increased compared to 12 months ago, up from 76% in 2020 Q4 - the highest balance in nearly two years.
CECA chief executive Alasdair Reisner said: 'There has been a strong recovery in construction since the collapse in activity precipitated by start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March of last year, which is to be welcomed as we seek to recover from the economic impact of the crisis.
'This has fuelled global demand for construction products and materials, along with supply issues. For instance, our members tell us that the annual inflation rate for timber and fabricated steelwork have risen to an eleven year high this year.
'With increased demand and a healthy pipeline of work in key construction sectors, supply and demand imbalances are likely to continue.
'That why we are calling on the UK Government and all industry stakeholders to continue to work together to ensure the construction-led recovery is not held back by an insufficient supply of materials, and to carefully monitor and meet the ongoing needs of the sector as we build back better from the coronavirus pandemic.'