Welsh construction: do the numbers add up?

Chris Wynne of Wynne Construction introduces an update to CEWales Construction by Numbers first published in 2019

COVID-19 has greatly impacted the construction industry throughout 2020 and this looks set to continue into the first half of 2021 and beyond.

When lockdown measures were first introduced in March, many sites closed, and output levels were severely affected. Rising to the ensuing challenges of the pandemic and adapting our business in line with the evolving Government guidelines and Construction Leaderships Council’s Site Operating Procedures to maintain operations has required tremendous effort and resourcefulness.

Despite best efforts however, costs associated with Furlough payments and redundancies and with reduced output due to social distancing measures and difficulties obtaining materials, have had a major impact on employment, output and consequently turnover in the sector.

The most significant effect upon the construction sector here in North Wales however is the slowing down of public sector works and public sector clients’ inability to obtain approval from Welsh Government to sign off project starts. This is without doubt seriously impacting the recovery of the construction industry.

However, this is an opportunity for Welsh Government to recognise the need to review and modernise the current protocols to achieve swift approvals for projects.

While it is still uncertain how long Covid-19 related restrictions will be in place, including social distancing measures, there are signs that the sector is starting to recover albeit very slowly, but without change the Welsh construction industry’s recovery will lag behind the rest of the UK.

Without doubt this Construction by Numbers Report highlights the concerns felt here in Wales/North Wales compared with the rest of the UK, and I am grateful to CEWales for undertaking this work. The objective is to publish the full report in a few weeks’ time – right now it is being reviewed by CEWales members and the finished document will reflect their feedback. For now, it is worth noting some statistics and you can look forward to more very soon –

  • The value of Housing work per capita in Wales remains the lowest in the UK and is well below the national average. This puts the importance of Welsh Government’s backing of the Optimised Retrofit programme into perspective.
  • The value of infrastructure work per capita remains considerably lower than the UK average and is next to last within the UK – yes Wales needs more, not less infrastructure.
  • Approximately 101,800 people are directly employed in construction in Wales of which 90,011 are aged 16-64. That’s around 6.1% of all jobs, which is lower than the UK ratio of 6.4%.