With the world seemingly mired in geo-political economic crises (wars aside, slowing Chinese growth, 50% oil price slump, European deflation, Greek debt to name a few) government is proudly announcing scheme after scheme of major infrastructure: HS2, Crossrail extensions, Crossrail in Glasgow, whisperings of HS3 and even HS4, Superhighways under London, the list goes on.
Construction is generally considered a key indicator of the health of an economy. Lots of building activity, the thinking goes, is indicative of available funding and, in turn, growth and economic confidence (particular to this are major infrastructure projects as these demand significant capital investment). We should all be encouraged by the recent Markit/CIPS survey that reports the UK construction sector grew in January following, as is not unexpected, a seasonal slowing in December.
Sadly the picture is not quite so rosy. Several smaller construction companies have recently entered administration. Some of you will be all too aware of Parkstone Group and Anglo Holt, both had difficulties with late or non-payment that suggests ongoing cashflow problems within supply chains. Recent activity in the TCC, several cases of which have lately been the subject of articles on this blog, would seem to support this observation (for further reading see Savoye and Savoye Ltd v Spicers Ltd  EWHC 33 (TCC), St Austell Printing Co Ltd v Dawnus Const. Hold. Ltd  EWHC 96 (TCC), The Trustees of the Marc Gilbard 2009 Settlement Trust v OD Dev. and Proj. Ltd  EWHC 70 (TCC), 3 cases of note last month alone).
So what is the true picture? Only time will tell. Whether the major projects come to true fruition remains to be seen, many will simply be pie in the sky (or earth) and one must take them with a pinch of political salt.
It may be best to hide in your own Nuclear Bunker, yours for only £75,000, until everything calms down. It would certainly make for an interesting construction project…