UK construction firms see record growth in workloads - RICS

LONDON Thu Jan 9, 2014 7:01pm EST

LONDON Jan 10 (Reuters) - British construction firms saw record growth in work in the last three months of 2013 and expect similarly strong growth in 2014, an industry survey showed on Friday, giving hope for ongoing economic recovery.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said its members in the construction industry reported the biggest increase in workloads since the quarterly survey began in 1994.

Construction slumped in Britain after the financial crisis, and is still recovering from a low base, despite government efforts early in 2013 to stimulate private-sector home-building through the first stage of its Help to Buy scheme.

Last week, mortgage lender Nationwide said a shortage of new homes was partly to blame for an 8.4 percent annual rise in house prices in December, the biggest jump in over three years.

Construction output grew at an annualised rate of more than 10 percent between April and September, according to official data, contributing to strong growth in the broader economy. Official data for November is due at 0930 GMT.

The RICS survey pointed to strong growth for 2014. Surveyors expect workloads to rise by 5.2 percent, the biggest margin since construction firms were first polled in 1998.

Firms also intend to hire construction workers at the fastest pace in more than 15 years as well, and are already reporting shortages of bricklayers in particular.