Looking to the future

Economic Week In Review | Issue 272 22 March 2021

Property and construction news

  • Cornwall has overtaken London as the most searched-for location in which to buy property on Rightmove. The proportion of Londoners looking to move out of the city rose from 39% to 52%.
  • Ox-Cam Expressway | The £3.5bn Oxford-Cambridge road link has been scrapped as a report by Highways England showed that it did not represent value for money.
  • Fire Safety Order | New announcements by the Home Office say that building owners could face unlimited fines for breaches to fire safety regulations.
  • Insolvencies | Construction insolvencies have outstripped those in retail and hospitality in the last year. 1,634 construction firms have collapsed, compared to 1,378 and 1,355 in hospitality and retail.
  • Carbon retrofit | The Government has listed 429 carbon retrofit projects worth £1bn. The new Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy intends to cut emissions by two-thirds in 15 years.
  • Net zero jobs | The target to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 will require the equivalent of 350,000 new roles in the construction industry by 2028 according to the Construction Industry Training Board. It also notes that the target will require work on 27 million domestic and two million non-domestic buildings.
  • Energy efficient homes | The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has reported that the task of ensuring the UK’s housing stock is adequately energy efficient has been underestimated by the government. The current estimate of between £35bn and £65bn doesn’t include properties with solid walls or in conservation areas. The EAC estimate is £342bn.

Materials

  • Iron ore | Rumours of possible cuts to output (of between 30% and 50%) for China’s most polluting steel producers has halted the rapid increases to the price of iron ore. As China released its new Five-Year Plan with ambitious environmental targets, iron ore experienced a sharp sell-off.
  • Steel in Britain | The Government has drawn up a contingency plan to use public money to run Liberty Steel while looking for a buyer in light of a potential collapse of the third-largest steel producer in Britain. Concerns are increasing as Liberty Steel’s current owner GFG Alliance and Sanjeev Gupta is looking for new funding following the failure of its main funder, Greensill Capital. The process would be similar to that used during the rescue of British Steel in 2019.

UK news

• Exports to Ireland have fallen 65%, partly due to challenges complying with customs requirements, but also due to stockpiling activity which took place last year and falling demand as goods from other countries were bought instead. A factor in this reduction could be increased traffic on direct ferry routes between the continent and Ireland.
• Finance access | The UK and EU are edging closer to an agreement on financial regulation which could give City firms more access to the single market. Partial regulatory equivalence for some products could be granted by the end of the month.

Global news

  • Manhattan offices | Lower rents have driven office demand and the number of new requests from companies seeking space has increased 57% this year compared to the July-November average according to data platform VTS. However, firms are looking for smaller space with finance firms’ sqft demands generally down 10% and 31%.
  • US hotels | Occupancy rates in American hotels hit 52%, the highest since the beginning of lockdowns. Investors and analysts are expecting vaccine success and stimulus cheques to boost the travel economy.

Innovation

  • 3D Printing | the world’s first 3D printed residential neighbourhood is being built in California by Mighty Buildings and Palari. The project will see 15 eco-friendly homes built of a synthetic stone that hardens in sunlight. Each 350 sqft unit could be printed in 25 hours.
Tender Price Index

Published every six months, our Tender Price Index is an analysis of inflation price deviation in construction prices. Click on the link above to view our most recent Index.

Friday to Friday

Price / Index Week %
change
Annual %
change
FTSE 100 6,708.71 -0.78 29.24
FTSE 250 21,420.31 -0.40 57.59
Nikkei 29,792.05 0.25 79.98
CSI 300 5,007.09 -2.71 37.06
S&P 500 3,913.10 -0.77 69.77
Nasdaq 13,215.24 -1.37 92.10
CAC 40 5,997.96 -0.80 48.14
Dax 14,621.00 0.82 63.75
$ per £ 1.3870 -0.93 18.14
€ per £ 1.1647 0.00 5.92
Gold £/oz 1,258.09 1.42 -2.36
Brent Oil $/barrel 64.53 -6.78 155.16

Weekly Summary

A year on from the Prime Minister’s instruction to stay at home, the UK economy is in a very different place. The table above shows large annual growth figures showing the difference between then and now. But this has come at a cost, the Centre for Economics and Business Research has found that the last year has cost the UK economy £251bn.

There will be more costs to come as insolvency figures remain a concern especially as Business Bounce Back Loan repayments will begin to fall due and support is eased off during the year.

Yet it is positive to see that the government is pushing on with its commitment to a zero carbon future which will have indirect benefits as it encourages the economy and the skills market.

Author contact

Rachel Coleman
Rachel Coleman,
Associate Research Analyst

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