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Opinion: Lies, damned lies and building stats

Now we all know what it feels like on the naughty step.

The country has fallen into a double-dip recession and the finger is being pointed at a collapse in construction as a prime cause of the latest woes.

It’s hardly a shock to anyone in the industry that we are going through very tough times.

But can we really believe the Government number crunchers when it comes to construction figures? The blunt answer is probably not – despite protests from the Office of National Statistics. Officials at the ONS stand by their estimate of a 3% contraction in construction during the first three months of the year.

But the numbers have raised eyebrows all over the City following a series of bullish surveys from construction purchasing managers. Buyers tend to be optimistic by nature while civil servants often err on the side of caution so the truth – as always – probably lies somewhere in between.

General output numbers are fairly meaningless for most contractors anyway  – the real question is how is your specialist sector, and region, performing?

General building is obviously going through a torrid time, but other areas are seeing brighter prospects.

National Statistics!

Perhaps casting construction as a catch-all recessionary villain could do us all a favour in the long run.

It raises the public profile of an often neglected sector and rams home the message that under investment in the nation’s infrastructure is bad for everyone.

Those heavy ONS fingers on their calculators could prove to be a blessing in disguise for contractors.

If you are drowning  – it’s always better to be noticed.

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