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Research shows construction firms “most optimistic” about economy and Brexit

Business Census 2017 report reveals construction industry more optimistic about Brexit and economy than other sectors.

According to findings in newly published report, Business Census 2017, the construction industry feels more positive about the economy this year than other sectors, after the impact from Brexit was less negative.

The survey was carried out by the business data website Company Check, covering 1,300 firms during November and December. It revealed that a total of 66% were optimistic about the UK economy in 2017, higher than any other major industry in the survey.

The figure compared to 63% in professional services, 59% in manufacturing and 49% in tech. Only the food and drink industry was higher, yet accounting for just 4% of all companies questioned.

Only a quarter of construction firms said the vote to leave the European Union had had a negative impact on their business, with 11% saying the impact had been positive and 61% saying it had made no difference, higher than any other.

Katie Deverill, from Company Check, said: “The Business Census lets us ‘take the temperature’ of the UK’s construction industry to understand the big challenges they’re going to be facing during the next 12 months. The findings show Brexit hasn’t had the chilling effect that it’s had in other areas, with high levels of optimism for the year ahead.

“However there’s also high levels of disaffection with local authorities when it comes to them supporting and nurturing business growth. The powers that be should take note of these figures and recognise that something in the current system just isn’t working.”

A total of 64% of construction companies said they grew in 2016, with 74% saying that expected growth this year.

Across all industries that figure was 73%. While just 18% said they feared economic decline next year, making it the most optimistic industry.

Construction Industry Council Chairman Prof John Nolan has commented: “I am not at all surprised by these figures. My practice registered a substantial boom in new enquiries immediately following the EU referendum result and that level of increased enquires has continued. Most of my peers in Built Environment Professions have also reported an increase in enquiries. Our biggest concern now is finding sufficient quality staff to meet this increased demand.”

A total of 25% of businesses said they were affected by the issue of recruitment in 2016, which was the higher than any other industry. The construction industry remains the highest in terms of recruitment concerns in 2017, although at a lower 14%.

In total, 34% said the economy was the biggest concern this year, while 30% said politics. Nationally, concerns about political events almost doubled compared to 2016 for all sectors, with it being named the biggest challenge ahead by one in three (30%), an increase of 90% on the year before.

A quarter of construction firms believe that the government is doing a good job of supporting business growth. This compares to 44% in finance, 35% in professional services and 33% in tech.

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