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21 December 2015, 07:08
Confidence in the Scottish construction sector has fallen again during the final three months of the year.
However, the latest result of a survey of industry employers is the tenth consecutive quarter in which a positive overall confidence rating has been recorded.
The Scottish Construction Monitor, carried out on behalf of trade body the Scottish Building Federation, asks members to rate how confident they feel about their company's prospects during the next 12 months compared with the past year.
Industry confidence in the final quarter of 2015 was down 13 points on the previous three months, taking it back to where it was at the end of 2013.
Ahead of next year's Holyrood elections, the latest survey also asked a series of questions about key policy areas affecting the construction sector.
Almost half of respondents rated the Scottish Government's performance in prioritising investment in construction projects as either fair or good, compared with 24% who rated it as poor.
Asked where public investment in construction should be prioritised, housing emerged as top amongst industry employers.
The SBF will use the results of the survey to help form a policy manifesto for the Scottish construction sector which it intends to publish in the new year.
SBF managing director Vaughan Hart said: "This latest confidence rating underlines continued concerns amongst employers about the long-term sustainability of the revival in industry performance we are currently witnessing.
"As we have highlighted before, there are continuing concerns about the unbalanced performance of the industry at the current time and that, throughout 2015, industry employment rates have continued to lag significantly behind record levels of output.
"As we look ahead to next year's Scottish Parliament elections, there are a number of critical issues facing the construction industry which we are keen to see politicians across all parties get to grips with.
"Policy areas such as procurement, planning, capital investment and skills will all have a major influence on the industry's future. We look forward to debating these issues with candidates in the lead-up to the May elections and to exploring the solutions needed to support the industry over the lifetime of the next Scottish parliament.''
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "The construction industry is a key driver of our economy and that is one very important reason why we have prioritised investment in public infrastructure as a means of growing our economic recovery.
"Just last week, the annual report of Scotland's Chief Economist reported very strong growth in the construction industry - driven in large part by public infrastructure investment - and we have a strong track record of taking action to support the homebuilding industry, in particular through the Help to Buy (Scotland) scheme, with over £300 million provided to date.
"We have also invested in the affordable housing supply programme, which has delivered 30,000 affordable houses over the last five years, with commitment to 50,000 affordable homes over the next five years.''