All we want are the facts…

June 15th, 2015

Construction industry in recession: Fact or Fiction?

Fifty years ago the first ever American import was shown on British Independent Television (ITV) on its 2nd day of broadcasting.  The show was Dragnet, a police procedural drama featuring the (fictional) LA Detective Joe Friday.  As he went about searching for details that would lead to the apprehension of all manner of bad guys, Friday was known for his catchphrase, ‘All we want are the facts, ma’am.’

Last month, pollsters in the UK faced their worst night in 25 years.  Prior to the general election, the polling giants including YouGov couldn’t seem to separate fact from fiction and they are still dumbfounded by just how horribly wrong they got their predictions on the outcome of the vote.

Also last month, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that following last year’s 4th quarter numbers, falls in construction output for each of the first three months of 2015 meant the construction industry was technically in recession. The ONS cited all kinds of ‘facts’ (new work figures, repair and maintenance statistic, breakdowns between housing, public and private commercial work, blah, blah). But wait.  Could the pollsters at the ONS be wrong?  Might their facts be a fiction?

The UK’s Construction Products Association (representing the ‘voting public’ of 300,000 people across 20,000 companies with an annual turnover of £47 billion) said the ONS are talking wrecking balls. The CPA cited their own association’s latest Construction Trade Survey which reported an eighth consecutive quarter of growth in the first quarter of 2015.  Large contractors, SMEs, civil engineers and product manufacturers all enjoyed growth in output in Q1 and further expansion is anticipated in 2015.  Say what?  Forget Dragnet.  We’re entering The Twilight Zone.

Here at GB Underwriting we have never been busier and, as construction insurance specialists, this must be a fair indicator on the state of the construction industry.

So who is giving us the facts?  We think Joe Friday would tell us a fact is known by actual, on-the-ground experience or observation.  So we’re going with our clients’ view of the facts, ma’am.

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