Through the first quarter of 2022, we saw a strong return after the much needed Christmas break. January and February were extremely buoyant, despite the continuing pressures on material supply and accelerating cost-inflationary pressures being felt across the wider economy.
We began to see a change through March. The material supply situation began to ease a little but, driven-on by the situation in Ukraine, price rises became the dominant factor influencing market behaviour and strategic decision making.
Nevertheless, the outlook remained positive through early March with strong quotation activity. As we moved towards April there were early signs of project delays across the majority of construction sectors with the exception of infrastructure, with the likes of HS2 and high-speed communication networks continuing to forge ahead.
Today, quote levels have stayed positive, but the underlying uncertainty resulting from the broader economic situation makes short to medium term forecasting extremely difficult.
Wage inflation is affecting all businesses, not just in construction, and adding further cost-complexity, the industry is struggling to address the continuing issue of skills shortages. A high percentage of the UK’s construction workforce is within five to ten years of retiring and the industry urgently needs to attract large numbers of young men, and women in particular, who see a long term future in construction. As we all step up a gear and change to meet the considerable challenges of climate change and sustainable resource management, it is imperative that innovations such as Green Urbanisation showcase
the potential for exciting, long-term careers.
Finally, the impact of the new regulatory requirements brought in by the Environment Act are beginning to be felt. With developers now being asked to provide greater detail on issues such as biodiversity-net-gain and nutrient neutrality, projects will potentially be subject to further time pressures as local authorities and utilities consider proposals against a far more rigorous sustainability-driven legislative agenda.