According to official figures from the Office of National Statistics, construction activity has overtaken its pre-pandemic level. Annual construction output increased by a record 12.7% in 2021 compared with 2020.
Monthly construction output increased by 2% (£281m) in volume terms in December 2021. This is the second consecutive month of growth and the largest single-month growth since March 2021 (3.9%).
The increase came solely from an increase in new work (3.5%) as repair and maintenance saw a decline of 0.7% on the month. Nevertheless, these figures could indicate that the growth trend is set to continue.
Anecdotal evidence suggested some of the issues in sourcing construction products in the second half of 2021 had continued to ease.
Alongside the monthly growth, quarterly construction output increased 1% in Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2021 compared with Quarter 3 (Jul to Sept) 2021; both new work (1.1%) and repair and maintenance (0.8%) saw increases.
Construction output main figures, difference in construction output February 2020 (pre-coronavirus pandemic level) to December 2021, Great Britain
A great majority of the industry recovery is as a result of the strength of infrastructure – sitting 45% above the February 2020 pre-pandemic output level.
Overall, though output numbers may not be extremely exciting, order books are filling up. Total construction new orders increased by 9.2% (£1,121m) in Q4 2021 compared with Q3 2021, making total new orders now at their highest level (£13,326m) since Q3 2017.