RICS construction survey reports decline in NI public sector building work
Northern Ireland was the only part of the UK where public sector construction work declined in the first three months of this year, a survey has suggested.
Surveyors reported a "worrying decline" in local schools, hospitals and roads contracts due to public spending cuts.
But they said Northern Ireland's building industry has seen an overall increase in workloads over the period.
The survey was carried out by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and Belfast law firm, Tughans.
They found that despite the overall increase in workload levels from 1 January to 31 March, Northern Ireland's construction industry was still lagging behind other UK regions.
Surveyors also continued to report a construction skills shortage within the Northern Ireland workforce.
RICS Northern Ireland director, Ben Collins, said that the "small uplift" in overall construction workloads had been driven by the private sector, including private house building and private commercial activity.
"When it comes to public sector work, though, surveyors are reporting a worrying decline," he said.
"We understand that public money is finite and becoming more scarce. But we would encourage the politicians to recognise the paramount importance of investing in infrastructure and to prioritise funding capital expenditure where possible."
Michael McCord from Tughans Solicitors, said: "It continues to be the case that a sizeable amount of the work that local construction businesses are doing is in the English and Scottish markets.
"What we really want to see is the local construction sector experiencing sustained growth within Northern Ireland itself as well, and infrastructure activity is a very important element of this."