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Construction output fell in December

The latest Markit/Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply (CIPS) UK Construction Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) has highlighted a downturn in activity in the UK construction during December.

According to the monthly metric, output in the sector fell to a six-month low last month of 48.7 - down from 49.3 in November - with the below-50 score correlating to an increasing tightening in the industry over recent weeks.

This latest figure is the fastest rate of contraction recorded in the sector since June last year. With a score of less than 50 being reported in four of the last five months, the UK building sector would appear to be on something of a downward spiral at present.

David Noble, chief executive officer at CIPS, said: "Construction in housing is particularly desperate having experienced the fastest decline in two years, with the current period of contraction now lasting seven months in a row.

"Commercial housing activity has also continued to fall, albeit at a slower rate, leaving civil engineering as the only sector recording growth in the industry."

He added that December also saw a significant drop in new business, highlighting the fact that 2013 could be another difficult year for the industry.

Tim Moore, senior economist at Markit, added that December rounded off what was a miserable year for the UK construction sector, with new business intakes falling at the fastest rate since mid-2009 in the aftermath of the global economic crisis.

Last month, Lord Taylor of Goss Moor published a new report on behalf of the Department for Communities and Local Government examining the UK's planning guidance.

The internal review has called for a simplification of internal guidelines in order to streamline the planning process, while also bringing about faster resolutions for those seeking to take on new projects. 

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