Despite the Government promising to deliver 200,000 new homes by 2020, the latest survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has revealed that growth in the private housing sector slowed down considerably during the first quarter of 2016. 

Private housing workloads rose at their slowest pace since Q2 2013, with only 36 per cent more of those working in the sector reported a rise in growth rather than a fall over the first quarter of 2016. During the first quarter of 2015 that figure was close to 50 per cent.

Across all sectors, the RICS UK Construction Market Survey shows that while 33 per cent more respondents saw workloads rise rather than fall during the last quarter of 2015, this figure dropped by five per cent over the past three months.

Confidence in the outlook for the sector also dropped with the number of construction professionals saying that they expected to see workloads rise over the next 12 month outweighing those expecting a fall by 55 per cent. This is a considerable decrease on expectations from this time last year when 79 per cent more respondents expected to see workloads rise.

RICS chief economist, Simon Robinson, said: “Our survey tells us that planning delays are one of the biggest barriers to growth in the construction sector. We have recommended that councils work together to create a team of emergency planners who can parachute into boroughs that are experiencing significant delays, therefore reducing a major growth barrier.

“That said, we cannot discount the climate of uncertainty caused by the forthcoming EU referendum. We know that a range of sectors have been affected by these issues as investors look to delay any decisions until a final outcome has been determined, and construction is no exception.”

Meanwhile, following four per cent employment growth in 2015, respondents foresee headcounts continuing to rise over the coming 12 months with a net balance of 41% expecting growth, and a rise of 2% forecast, on average.