Construction contract figures drop to three- year low

As the UK prepared for the general election, overall construction contract figures in May dropped to their lowest value for more than three years, with residential and education the only sectors to buck the trend. According to the latest edition of the

Economic & Construction Market Review from Barbour ABI, £4.9bn worth of construction contracts were commissioned in May, which was a £500m reduction on the previous month, and a significant £1.5bn drop compared with figures from May 2016. Looking at construction across the UK

regions, it was the South West that led with 18 per cent of the UK’s construction contract value, largely thanks to a £400m mechanical and engineering contract at the Hinckley Point nuclear plant project based in Somerset. London, which usually sits firmly at the

top of the regional rankings for market share, only accumulated nine per cent of the UK’s total construction contract value in May, with five regions contributing more value than the capital.

Residential and education construction were the only areas in which contract values increased from May to April. Both increases were only minimal however, at 1.9 and 0.9 per cent respectively. The remaining sectors all saw decreases, with infrastructure hit hardest, falling by 22 per cent on the month and by almost 40 per cent compared to 12 months ago. Outside of the Hinckley point contract,

some of the biggest projects awarded in May include a £300m Blyth offshore wind farm off the coast of Northumberland, a £130m halls of residence planned at the University of Hull, and the luxury Vincent Tower hotel scheme in Liverpool, which is valued at £70m. Michael Dall, leading economist at

Barbour ABI, commented on the figures: “While the pre-election jitters will have no doubt affected these recent figures, many of the sectors within construction – such as the infrastructure and medical & health sectors – have been performing below par for some time now, with the industry being too heavily reliant on residential building performing strongly each month.”


New data protection rules pose threat to construction firms

British construction and building firms are thought to be largely unaware of the new wide-ranging data protection rules which come into force in less that a year’s time, despite 25 per cent admitting the maximum fine for non-compliance would force them out of business. According to a YouGov survey of 190 construction firms, which was commissioned by law firm Irwin Mitchell, only 30 per cent admit to being aware of the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) which commence on 25 May 2018.

GDPR represents the biggest change to the way businesses process personal infor- mation in 25 years, replacing existing data protection laws, the firm said. Under the new rules, the maximum fine for certain data breaches in the UK will rise from £500,000 to €20m or 4 per cent of global turnover, whichever is larger.

77 per cent of respondents were unaware of the new fines, and 25 per cent admitted they would go out of business if they received the maximum punishment. Joanne Bone, partner and data protection expert at Irwin Mitchell, said the results were “concerning.” He commented: “With next May’s

deadline fast-approaching, and with so much at stake, our study reveals there’s a very real possibility that a large number of construction companies will not be compliant in time.” Under the new regime, the notification of certain data breaches where there is an impact on privacy must be given to the regulator within 72 hours. However, the survey found that only 18 per cent of construction companies are certain that they would be able to detect a data breach within their organisation. Only 27 per cent said they were confident they would notify the relevant stakeholders within the required timescale of three days. Bone added: “It’s hard to think of a business today that does not use personal data – if the data relates to an individual, you will be caught by the new data protection laws.” Gordon Anderson, head of construction London at Irwin Mitchell, said: “Good data governance can build customer trust, and the right permissions may also help construction businesses take advantage of the ‘Big Data Revolution’, enabling them to commercialise their data to their advantage. But ignoring the new rules can lead to hefty fines – at the very least.”

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