The construction and building industry in the United Kingdom encompasses a broad range of economic activities which involve the development, repair and modification residential, commercial and government properties, as well as public and private infrastructure.
There are approximately 31,346 construction-related firms in the country, although the figure goes up to 273,775 if we include private contractors under sole-proprietorships (108,691) and small or medium-sized contractors with three or less employees (72,128). Not surprisingly, the majority of registered construction-related companies (89,276) are located in the Greater London area, which interestingly, is three times higher than the combined number of firms based in Scotland (17,834) and Wales (11,123).
The industry provides employment to about 2.1 million people (the figure goes higher if we include numbers from overlapping sectors such as sales and services) or 6.3% of the country's jobs, and generates £55 billion in revenues in 2015, which accounts for 2.94% of the country's gross domestic product (GDP). However, the gross value added (GVA) contribution of the construction industry, which is the single best metric for the economic output of specific industries to the economy, hovers at £103 billion, or 6.5% of the GDP.
In the UK, the construction industry is principally regulated by five government bodies and agencies:
- Department for Communities and Local Government
- Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
- Health and Safety Executive
- Local planning authority/ county councils
- Planning Inspectorate for England and Wales
The building and construction industry, as in many other developed nations, is considered just behind the energy sector in terms of economic influence. It is viewed by most economists as a good bellwether for the greater health of the country's economy. In periods of recessions and economic uncertainties, it is usually the first industry to be affected by the decrease in investments, cash flow and revenue. Similarly, the growth of the construction industry usually heralds a healthy, growing or recovering economy.