Commenting in response to the publication by NISRA of the latest edition of the Northern Ireland Construction Bulletin, Neal Taylor, Audit Partner at leading business advisory firm Grant Thornton in Belfast, said:
“The level of building work in Northern Ireland decreased marginally at the end of 2019, down 1.2% in the last three months of the year, which include the Christmas period shutdown of construction sites, compared to the previous quarter and 1.3% lower than the same period in 2018.
“The decline was driven by a 2.4% reduction in repair and maintenance work while there was also a significant decrease in infrastructure output, down by 18.1%.
“However, as the figures cover the final quarter of 2019, they reflect the industry before the onset of the coronavirus outbreak.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly brought many challenges to businesses across the world and for the local construction industry, the early optimism experienced in 2020 with the return of the Stormont Executive and a raft of additional funding made available by the UK government has now largely disappeared.
“A halt on non-essential building work will of course reduce output over the coming weeks and months and necessarily so. But it will be some time before the full extent of the coronavirus on the Northern Ireland construction sector becomes clear.
“We are advising clients across the industry as they work through the necessary arrangements to respond to the pandemic and prepare to bounce back when restrictions are lifted and it is safe to do so.”