UK: Optimism is high in the building engineering services sector after a strong finish to 2016 and a positive start to 2017.

More than three quarters (78%) of respondents to a survey amongst building services and electrical contractors reported that their turnover had increased or remained steady in the final quarter of last year. And there was even greater optimism for the first quarter of this year, with 86% expecting their turnover to increase or stay the same.

The survey, which was carried out by the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) in partnership with the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA) and the Scottish electrical trade body SELECT, showed that businesses of all sizes were holding up well. The very large companies – those with a turnover over £20m – were doing best, with over half seeing their turnover growing.

However, nearly 60% said their material costs had risen since the vote to leave the EU last June – mainly because of the impact on the value of the pound – and about four in 10 say their labour costs have also gone up.

Late payment continues to be a concern with more than 50% saying they are not being paid within 30 days for work completed for public sector clients, which is illegal.