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Awards 2024

BCIS issues five-year infrastructure forecast

Civil engineering costs are forecast to climb 16% by the end of 2028.

Infrastructure growth is forecast to slow to just 0.9% this year as road spending falls
Infrastructure growth is forecast to slow to just 0.9% this year as road spending falls

Civil engineering costs will rise by 16% by the end of 2028, while civil engineering tender prices are expected to increase by 18% over the same period, according to the Building Cost Information Service (BCIS).

The five-year infrastructure forecast from BCIS also estimates that new work infrastructure output rose by 4.0% in 2023 but growth will slow to 0.9% in 2024 as road and railways spending falls.

Over the next five years, infrastructure output is then forecast to rise by 11%, driven by growth in the electricity sub-sector.

BCIS chief economist David Crosthwaite said: “Infrastructure, unlike other construction sectors, has maintained historically high levels of new work output. Although we’re predicting some slowdown in growth over the forecast period, there is defined pipeline work, which we’re hoping will ensure output levels are maintained – assuming, of course, that the pipeline is realised.

“We remain optimistic that the government, regardless of whether or not it changes, will continue to see infrastructure investment as a key lever to economic growth. Between the spring budget and recent publication of the updated National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline, there hasn’t been much to allay the industry’s concerns about the current challenges.”

On the input costs side, annual civil engineering materials’ cost inflation has continued to cool from its peak of 30.6% in spring 2022.

BCIS forecasts its Civil Engineering Materials Cost Index to continue to grow slowly in 2024, resulting in a 14% increase by the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2028.

Labour costs remain elevated, with the BCIS Civil Engineering Labour Cost Index increasing by 6.3% in the year to Q4 2023.

BCIS forecasts annual growth in the index to be 7.1% in Q1 2024, but to then slow, resulting in 18% growth over the forecast period to the end of 2028.

Dr Crosthwaite said: “On top of committing to a pipeline of infrastructure projects, the new skills and roles that will be required to complete the projects, and especially efforts to decarbonise the built environment, need serious consideration by ministers. Decreased demand, particularly in new work, has somewhat masked the skills shortages that have been previously reported in the sector.”

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