RedRock Construction Industry Outlook – December 2019

Taking a look back at 2019

How has the construction industry fared this year?

As we come to the end of 2019 we always like to pause and take stock of the past 12 months.

At the end of last year we were looking back on 2018 as something of a mixed year. It is difficult to believe that the ‘Beast from the East’ weather conditions which had such an impact on the industry were nearly two years ago? Let’s hope for more clement conditions as we move into 2020!

The benefits of hindsight

Looking back at last December it is interesting to note that at that point, the country was preparing for Brexit in March.

To Brexit or not to Brexit – that has been the question

Little did we know that 12 months later, the UK would still be in the EU.

It is also important to note that how much uncertainty has been caused by the lack of a clear plan throughout 2019 and how this has hung over activity in the construction industry.

How the year has panned-out

Our regular readers will remember that we started 2019 with a relatively healthy output measure for the industry at 52.8 (reflecting the end of 2018).

It was also reported at the beginning of the year that business optimism was robust. This positive sentiment was not destined to persist.

At the start of the year, a number of major infrastructure projects: HS2, Crossrail and Heathrow expansion were reasons for the construction industry to feel cheerful.

Here we are at the end of the year and the futures of both HS2 and Heathrow are unclear, with the former on hold and no decision having been made about the latter.

The industry is waiting to see when Heathrow expansion will move ahead

Despite the construction output figure for January starting the year on a positive note,  as soon as we moved into February, there were signs of a ‘significant slowdown’ and when our outlook was published in March the outcome of Brexit was still unclear, despite the leave date being at the end of that month.

This was the month where our favourite word of the year; ‘uncertainty’ really began to creep in to the narrative.

House building has been healthier during the year than civil or commercial building

As we mentioned in our June blog – if you had travelled back in time to the beginning of 2019, what reaction would you have got from people if you told them that in the summer, the UK would still be part of the EU and that the mechanism for leaving would be no clearer than it had been in December 2018? They would probably think you were mad!

Certainty at last?

Whatever your individual perspective on Brexit – at least there is now more certainty following the General Election on 12th December and Boris Johnson’s pledge to ‘Get Brexit Done’.

The UK will leave the EU at the end of January next year and although the exact future relationship with the EU remains unclear, this future direction will hopefully help the construction industry to feel more confident about embarking on major projects next year.

The new government has also pledged to invest in the country’s infrastructure so along with other industry watchers, we wait with anticipation for the go-ahead on some big projects next year.

A more cheerful outlook for the industry in 2020?

We urge you to continue reading our blogs throughout 2020 and we look forward to a successful year of certainty for the UK construction industry.

Looking for a new role or looking to recruit in 2020?

A new decade is a great time to look for a new role. If you are planning to look for a new job in construction in 2020 – register online with us today:

AND if you are planning a new project and are looking to recruit – please get in touch with us as we will be delighted to help. 

Finally, we would like to wish all of our clients and candidates a very Happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year from everyone at RedRock Recruitment. We look forward to working with you again in 2020.