Specialist contractors are experiencing an increase in activity  according to the latest NSCC State of Trade Survey.   44% of respondents reported a growth in orders in the second quarter of 2012, an increase of 14% over the last two quarters.  With 61% now working at over 75% capacity, it suggests a gradual recovery could be on the horizon, which is encouraging news in the face of the figures reported by the Office of National Statistics last month showing that construction output had fallen by 5.2%.

There is continued short-term optimism in the specialist sector with 40% of respondents expecting an increase in workload, up from 30% in the previous quarter, and 27% looking to expand their businesses over the next three months.  A member of the Painting and Decorating Association (PDA)  confirmed that “there is business out there but everyone is very careful in what they are spending.”  The longer term  remains uncertain with  the majority of  specialist contractors still planning less than three months ahead.  32% also reported a decrease in enquiries this quarter, which is likely to have an impact on the number of orders received in the next quarter and may undermine the recent improvement.

Following the Government’s decision in December 2010 to make 30-day payment throughout the supply chain a contractual requirement on central Government contracts,  44% of Specialist Contractors  are now receiving payment within 30 days on public sector works, compared to 26% in 2011 Q1