Scottish construction activity has fallen for another quarter, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
The RICS Construction & Infrastructure Market Survey, Scotland, found that the sector’s workload fell by 18% overall in the third quarter of 2020, although the drop is less sharp than the minus 43% reported in quarter two during the height of lockdown.
Scotland’s construction industry once again saw a much larger activity drop in percentage terms compared to the UK’s overall figure, which fell by 7% in quarter three, down from minus 36% between April and June.
Looking ahead, respondents to the RICS survey expect construction activity in Scotland to be higher in a year’s time than they are currently, with a net balance of 33% predicting improvements by next year, up from minus 17% who felt the same in the last quarter.
Scottish surveyors also report an expectation that profit margins will be squeezed in the next 12 months, but predict employment levels to remain broadly consistent over that timeframe.
According to the RICS, Scottish surveyors anecdotally said key issues facing the industry was the general impact of coronavirus restrictions on their operations and on demand. They also suggest that a “more coherent infrastructure strategy” is needed from the Scottish Government.
Commenting on the UK-wide picture, RICS’s chief economist Simon Rubinsohn said: “These are clearly very challenging times for the economy.
“Government’s commitment to delivering on its infrastructure programme provides a ray of light with the survey pointing towards a solid increase in workloads over the next 12 months, which could play an important role in helping to drive a wider recovery in business activity.
“The private residential sector is also expected to see solid growth aided by the various policy initiatives that are still in play.
“However, commercial development is anticipated as being flatter in the face of the structural pressures facing both offices and retail.”