The West Midlands construction market continued to stall in the last quarter of 2011, according to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.
The sector faltered as doubts were cast over the Government’s ability to boost private funding to deliver proposed infrastructure projects, the latest RICS Construction Market Survey said.
Only five per cent of West Midlands surveyors stated they felt the government would be successful in their Autumn Statement pledge and generate sufficient institutional funding for planned projects.
There was also a scepticism about the Get Britain Building Fund, with only 29 per cent of surveyors believing that it would impact positively on the sector.
This pessimistic assessment reflected the overall position of the industry in the final quarter of the year, with a net balance of 13 per cent more respondents in the region reporting falling overall workloads, from -2 per cent.
Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, said: “Predictably, with workloads in the region continuing to fall and costs failing to decrease towards the end of the year, the outlook for the construction industry remains rather downbeat with no prospect of improvement in sight.
“Particularly worrying are the questions being raised over the Government’s plan to secure institutional funding for infrastructure projects.
“We would hope that this scepticism proves to be overly pessimistic, but the responses highlight the sizable job the Government still has to do in convincing industry professionals that this approach is going to deliver.”
There was a slight divergence between private and public sector workloads in the last quarter.
Private sector construction dipped only slightly towards the end of 2011 whereas overall public projects continued to fall, with 41 per cent more surveyors reporting falls rather than rises in levels of public housing construction.
Looking forward, surveyors in the West Midlands expect overall workloads to stagnate over the next twelve months and employment in the construction sector to fall further.
Input costs appear to have flattened out, with a net balance of six per cent of surveyors reporting increasing costs, down from +29 in the third quarter.
Expectations for future profits were firmly downbeat in the region as 51 per cent more surveyors predicted future margins to decrease rather than increase over the coming year. This is the sixteenth consecutive quarter with a negative reading for this series.
Across the UK, the North-South divide was in evidence with only London and the South East reporting positive net balance readings for workloads.
There is also no sign that pressure on small and medium enterprises is lessening.
Less than a third of respondents see recent government initiatives as being helpful for this segment of the industry.