Cost pressures mount as orders and wages rise

Electricians saw wages rise in July by 4.7% to an average of £1,080 a week. (Image: Site © Pv Productions/

The cost pressures on clients and contractors continue as figures from the Office for National Statistics show a growth in orders for the second quarter of nearly 20% whilst wages for skilled tradesman rose during July.

ONS reported that total construction new orders grew by 17.6% (£1,998m) in Q2 2021 compared with Q1 2021. This meant total new orders recovered in Q2 to above pre-pandemic levels for the first time at 1.6% (£214m) above the Q1 2020 level.

New payroll data from Hudson Contract shows average weekly earnings for the trades in the UK rose to £904 during July, giving them an extra £124 over the month. Overall, the cost of skilled labour on site increased by 3.6% last month.

Wages in all regions increased in July with joiners seeing their weekly pay packets jump by close to 11% last month to £1,041 while demolition contractors’ wages jumped 10% to £815 a week.

In the insulation sector rates went up 9.5% to an average of £953 a week. The best paid sector was electrical with wages rising by 4.7% to hit an average of £1,080 a week.

Construction price increases were reflected by ONS trends which showed that the annual rate of construction output price growth was 3.4% in June 2021 – the strongest annual rate since August 2019 (3.5%).

In terms of monthly trends, the ONS said that during June, monthly construction output fell by 1.3% because of a decline in repair and maintenance (4.2%) offset by a small increase in new work (0.5%).

Construction output in June 2021 was 0.3% (£39m) below the February 2020 pre-coronavirus pandemic level; new work was 2.1% (£188m) below this level, while repair and maintenance was 3.1% (£149m) above.

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