Building firms fear outlook is bleak for 2013
construction: A third of small to medium-sized building firms fear they will have to reduce staffing levels this year as the decline in the construction industry continues, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).
The pessimistic outlook for the building industry comes from the FMB's latest State of Trade Survey. With employment continuing to fall in the last three months of last year, coupled with the rising cost of overheads such as wages and materials, building firms believe the outlook for this year is bleak.
The survey shows that builders' workloads decreased last year, and are expected to keep falling, at least for the first half of this year.
However, the rate at which workloads and employment in the housing sector fell slowed down in the fourth quarter of last year, with many specialist trades reporting the first rise in employment since early 2011.
In the non-residential sector, there were no such signs of encouragement. Many firms said they may have to introduce price rises as overheads continue to eat into profit margins and the likelihood of lay-offs loomed.
Brian Berry, FMB's chief executive, said: "These figures reinforce what we already knew. Last year was a very tough year for construction, and the outlook for this year is still bleak.
"The Government must act now to support building firms and prevent workers from losing their jobs over the next 12 months."
The FMB's latest survey revealed that while workloads continued to decrease in all sectors, output prices, wages and salaries and material costs are all expected to go up in the coming six months.
Mr Berry said: "The construction industry is on a knife-edge as the Construction Skills Network predicts the slump will last at least a decade."