Construction Activity Falls At Fastest Rate Since Covid Began

The S&P Global/CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index has shown a huge decrease in activity within the construction sector. Finding the activity had fallen to an index score of 48.8 in December 2022. This was down from 50.4 in November. To put this in perspective any score below 50 represents a contraction in output. Whilst above 50 represents growth.

This, therefore, marks the end of a three-month period of growth within the sector. December is the first time that housebuilding activity has declined since August. This is the fastest decline since May 2020, during the first covid lockdown.

Housing Experts Comment

John Glen, the chief economist at CIPS, commented “The construction sector was stuck in the mud in December with the steepest fall in activity since the beginning of the pandemic in May 2020 and a similarly fast drop in pipelines of new work.” He explains that supply chain managers have “reined back spending” on building materials. This is reportedly the steepest fall in buying behaviour for over two and a half years. Glen also added that “Builders were reining back on recruitment unconvinced there will be enough growth in the UK economy in 2023 to justify additional expenditure when margins remained so squeezed. Builders are fast running out of the resilient spirit maintained over the last couple of years as the blocks to success piled up and the winter of discontent, with high inflation, strikes and shortages, continues”.

Lewis Cooper, S&P Global Market Intelligence economist stated that it was a “poor finish” to 2022 for the UK construction sector. “With the outlook turning negative, staffing levels declined for the first time since the start of 2021 in December. The data shows that companies are preparing to face significant challenges in the months ahead,” he stated.

Further Challenges

Although there were falls in activity the average lead times are at the highest since June. Industry experts have stated this is due to product shortages and shipping issues. In addition, construction costs increasing due to energy prices, materials, and fuel costs.

Scape chief executive Mark Robinson comments “The construction industry is braced for a tough year and, while there are positive signs that inflation has peaked, increased material costs will undoubtedly continue to shape the plans of developers and local authorities – that latter of which will be confirming their annual budgets this month,” he said. Maintaining clear, positive dialogue in 2023 will be crucial if projects are to progress uninhibited, and calm and cautious management will likely pay dividends further down the line when purchasing decisions are ready to accelerate again.”

Furthermore, the Bank of England’s interest rates have been rising steeply. These have now hit a 14-year high in December with a rate of 3.5%. According to Halifax, the average house price in the UK fell for the fourth month in a row in December, dropping by 1.5% compared to November. Halifax Mortgages director Kim Kinnaird commented “Some potential home moves have been paused as buyers feel increased pressure on affordability. And industry data continues to suggest many buyers and sellers are taking stock while the market continues to stabilise”. Last month Halifax forecast an 8% house price fall for 2023.

How Development Finance Could Help

Development finance is short-term funding for large-scale property development and construction projects. It can be used to fund the purchase of land as well as building costs. If you are struggling with the current economic climate and need further support to start your development project, BLG is here for you.

We are a leading principal lending specialist in property development finance, we are positioned to help you. Providing residential and commercial finance ranging from £1 million to £15 million we have the ideal skill set to lend and advise. Priding ourselves on fast decisions and flexible terms we can aid you through these turbulent times.

Contact our financial experts today who will take the time to get to know you and your aims.


“We have used BLG for development finance for over 8 years. During that time we have found their knowledge and expertise in the property development industry to be second to none. Their loan process, pragmatic and flexible approach to lending and flexibility when required has supported our business needs throughout the period and provided us with support to deliver new homes in Bristol and the surrounding areas.”

“As property developers you never know the curve balls that you may get and a project that is great on paper may prove a bit more tricky.  This happened to us on a project that BLG have funded and throughout they have supported us.  Our business likes to be collaborative and when we hit those tough moments it really felt like we were working as a team with BLG.  If you have a decent project you can get it funded, but what you really need is a business that is there to support and advise you as well.  For us on this project it was BLG.”

“I approached BLG Development finance with an opportunity I had in Chesham, Buckinghamshire, to build 5 new build houses in 2021. My main contact was Anil Bains who is a Director covering Asset Management. Within very quick timescales, BLG provided me with indicative quotes in regards the finance levels they could offer me. Having considered those levels, I requested a valuation to be carried out which again was dealt with swiftly. We proceeded to completion. The build went very smoothly with monthly monitoring being carried out by BLG and monthly drawdown requests dealt with in a very timely manner. Due to a difficult time generally in the market in regards selling, I was in need of a six-month extension to the loan which again was appraised very quickly and granted. Having dealt with numerous funders over the last 20 years, I can only speak highly of my personal experience with BLG and would very confidently work with them again on any future projects. “

"From our side it has also been a pleasure working with BLG and the team there. We have found you easy to deal with, proactive in resolving any minor issues that have arisen through the project and shown great flexibility in working with us as a partner. We will certainly like to work with you on future partners."

“I really appreciate your hard work. We really like the way you communicate & I must say I haven't seen many people who are that approachable.”

“A very efficient processing team, dealing with the DD once deal credit approved, through to completion”

“Many thanks for your efforts on this one and getting it approved and sorted so swiftly, very much appreciated. I am sure I will be speaking to your over the coming months.”

“We had other funding options, but chose to use BLG again, as we work well with the team, who always provide very clear information and advice with a friendly approach throughout the funding process. Very efficient and always very helpful.”

“Many thanks Anil, it’s been a real pleasure working with BLG so far.  We’re lining up the next project too”

“We would recommend all staff we have dealt with at BLG, as we are very satisfied with the team and the initial offer/terms presented, then you and the funding team, through to the draw down team at valuation stage.”

“All documents are clear and the way you keep clients informed, all the way along the funding process, is refreshing for us”

“With regard to what should be improved at BLG, we work with many lenders in our business and we do not get the help and response we have had on the two projects with all at BLG on our funding for our developments.”

“We would particularly mention Dave Edwards and Tom Pitts as being central to having a smooth working relationship and being positive and helpful at all times. Their guidance in helping us navigate the project from inception to completion was invaluable. As was their patience, particularly at the beginning. We look forward to many future projects with the BLG team.”

“We would like to express our appreciation for your support on our development in Bristol. We were very pleased that, from the outset, you shared our vision of the project to convert a dated but classical building, that had outlived its usefulness as a school, into unique luxury apartments with views overlooking the city. We found our dealings practical and streamlined. Monthly payments were processed in an efficient and timely manner.”

“BLG are very good at communicating with clients and all documents are very clear and all at BLG are always happy to help.”

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