The construction industry of the United Kingdom is one of the major industry sectors in the UK economy, contributing about 6% of UK gross value added in 2019.[1] In 2018, it was, by GVA, the sixth biggest construction sector in the world.[2]

Scale and composition

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the value of construction new work peaked at £119,087 million in 2019, dropping to £99,651 million in 2020.[3] Of this total, new housing comprised £37,755 million of new work, infrastructure £22,517 million, and private commercial building £24,614 million.[3] Public sector work (housing, infrastructure, other) accounted for 26% by value of new work in 2020.[3]

The construction sector employed around 2.1 million workers (1.4 million employed in just over 342,000 VAT/PAYE-registered businesses, plus 727,000 self-employed) in Great Britain in 2020,[3] with a high proportion of small businesses:[1] just over one million small/medium-sized businesses, mainly self-employed individuals, worked in the sector in 2019, comprising about 18% of all UK businesses.[1] Over a third of construction businesses in 2020 were located in London and south east England.[3] Women comprised 12.5% of the UK construction workforce.[4]

Industry strategy

HS2 construction near Leamington Spa in August 2021
HS2 construction near Leamington Spa in August 2021

Productivity in construction remains below the UK average and has changed little in the past 50 years.[5] As a result, the UK government has repeatedly tried to improve the sector's efficiency, publishing (among others) the Latham Report in 1994, the Egan Report in 1998 and the Farmer Review in 2016; in 2013 it launched the Construction 2025 industrial strategy,[6] which has since been updated through the 2018 industrial strategy, the 2019 Construction Sector Deal, the 2020 Construction Playbook, and the 2021 Transforming Infrastructure Performance: Roadmap to 2030.

As of 2022, the largest construction project in the UK is construction of the High Speed 2 rail line between London and the West Midlands. Prior to completion of construction, Crossrail was Europe's biggest construction project.[7][8]

The industry was pushed into a period of turmoil following the Brexit vote in June 2016. Fears of post-Brexit EU labour shortages were cited as a key reason for the uncertainty.[9][10][11] Further disruption followed during the COVID-19 pandemic from 2020 onwards, and there were inflationary pressures as a consequence of rising fuel prices following the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Main article: Economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom § Construction and property

Health and safety

Construction accounted for 39 of the 142 work fatalities reported in 2021-22,[12] with half of deaths over a five-year period attributed to falls from height.[13] Construction's fatal injury rate (1.62 per 100,000 workers) is around four times higher than the all industry rate.[13] Around 1.8% of construction workers reported musculoskeletal disorders - a higher rate than for workers across all industries (1.1%).[13]


  1. ^ a b c Rhodes, Chris (16 December 2019). Briefing Paper: Construction industry: statistics and policy. London: House of Commons Library.
  2. ^ Source: National Accounts Estimates of Main Aggregates | United Nations Statistics Division. Gross Value Added by Kind of Economic Activity at current prices - US dollars. Retrieved 26 June 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Construction statistics, Great Britain: 2020". Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 19 April 2022.
  4. ^ "Construction industry just 12.5% women and 5.4% BAME". GMB Union. 24 October 2019. Retrieved 30 April 2020.
  5. ^ "Productivity in the construction industry, UK: 2021". Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 19 April 2022.
  6. ^ "Construction 2025" (PDF). HM Government. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
  7. ^ "Crossrail's giant tunnelling machines unveiled". BBC News. 2 January 2012.
  8. ^ Leftly, Mark (29 August 2010). "Crossrail delayed to save £1bn". The Independent on Sunday. London.
  9. ^ correspondent, Phillip Inman Economics (4 July 2016). "Construction becomes first casualty of Brexit as housebuilders get jitters". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  10. ^ "Brexit vote sparks biggest plunge in construction since the financial crisis". The Independent. 2 August 2016. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  11. ^ ""Brexit could worsen construction skills crisis"". ITV News. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  12. ^ "Work-related fatal injuries in Great Britain". HSE. Health & Safety Executive. Retrieved 19 April 2022.
  13. ^ a b c "Construction statistics in Great Britain, 2021" (PDF). HSE. Health & Safety Executive. Retrieved 19 April 2022.