Construction activity picked up slightly in November although confidence among builders remained “subdued” due to Brexit-related uncertainty, according to the latest survey snapshot of the sector.

The Purchasing Managers’ Index rose to 53.1 in the month, up from 50.8 previously, with any reading above 50 consistent with growth.

But IHS Markit, which compiles the survey, also said that the year-ahead outlook reported by firms was still among the weakest since mid-2013, with builders citing heightened political and economic uncertainty.

“Persistent Brexit uncertainty continues to bite,” said Duncan Brock of the the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply.

“Concerns over civil engineering in particular are also prevalent with its downward course the longest since 2013 and linked to a shortfall of new tender opportunities.”

A report jointly published by seven of the construction industry’s largest trade bodies warned last week that the decision to leave the EU had left the UK construction industry facing a “cliff edge” in terms of its access to EU workers.

According to the most recent data from the Office for National Statistics, the construction sector was in recession in the second and third quarters of 2017, with output contracting by 0.5 per cent in the three months to June and 0.9 per cent in the three months to September.


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