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Housebuilders face worst month for two years, survey shows

Builders faced a bad month in June (Andrew Matthews/PA)
Builders faced a bad month in June (Andrew Matthews/PA)

House builders faced their worst month for over two years in June as the construction sector saw growth slowing yet again, a new survey suggests.

The closely-watched S&P Global/Cips construction purchasing managers’ index (PMI) scored 52.6 in June.

It was 56.4 a month earlier. Anything above 50 is considered growth.

“The gloomy UK business outlook and worsening consumer demand due to the cost of living crisis combined to put the brakes on construction growth in June,” said Tim Moore, economics director at S&P Global Market Intelligence.

“Commercial construction saw a considerable loss of momentum as clients exercised greater caution on new spending, while long-term infrastructure projects ensured a relatively resilient trend for civil engineering activity.”

It is the 17th month in a row that the construction sector has grown.

The sector had a few bad months during 2020, when the pandemic hit and building sites were forced to close.

But since then, barring a small dip in late 2020, it had been growing rapidly, with the PMI score peaking in the mid 60s in 2021.

For a lot of this time the house building sector was out in front, as builders benefited from a boom in the housing market.

But in June, for the fourth month in a row, housing was the worst performing subsector, even dropping into negative territory.

It contracted slightly over the month, scoring 49.3. It is the first downturn for housebuilders since May 2020.

“House building has expanded more quickly than the rest of the construction sector over the course of the pandemic, but now finds itself as the worst-performing broad category so far in 2022,” Mr Moore said.

“Moreover, the latest survey indicated an outright decline in residential work for the first time in just over two years.

“Construction companies appear braced for a difficult second half of the year as new order growth and business activity expectations fell again in June, reflecting inflation concerns, higher interest rates and less favourable domestic economic conditions.

“Measured overall, the degree of optimism across the construction sector is now the lowest seen since July 2020.”