The numbers you need to know about
The UK’s industrial and construction sectors shrank in March, this is according to new figures.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that industrial output managed to fall by 0.5 per cent compared with February. This is when it dropped by a revised 0.8 per cent.
The ONS said a falling demand for energy was the reason behind the changes.
In March construction output fell by 0.7 per cent. There was a 1.7 per cent fall in February.
Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Markit, explained the figures as, ”a ropey set of March data for the UK economy that point to a poor end to a disappointing first quarter”.
He added: “The poor data dilute any hopes that markedly slower GDP growth of 0.3 per cent quarter-on-quarter in the first quarter could be revised up.
“Indeed, the actual industrial production data was weaker than estimated in the preliminary first-quarter GDP estimate, while the trade deficit unexpectedly widened.”
Commenting on the new construction output figures published by the ONS today which show a 0.7 per cent fall in output in March, Michael Thirkettle, chief executive of leading interdisciplinary international construction and property consultancy McBains Cooper, “After a period of relative stability following Brexit, recent evidence has pointed towards a slowdown in construction as concern grows about what EU withdrawal will mean for the construction industry. These latest figures bear out such concerns.
“Political parties of all stripes are now set to outline ambitious manifesto targets to increase housebuilding but these will be hollow promises unless they are backed by concerted action to address skills shortages and increase access to finance, meaning no end in sight for the housing crisis.
“Whoever wins on 8 June, Brexit will occupy much of the government’s focus over the next two years, and consequently there will be continuing caution from the private and corporate sectors in construction. Yet the industry needs the opposite – some bold moves and big investments – if it is to produce sustained growth any time soon.”