Supporting growth

Economic Week In Review | Issue 368 | 27 February 2023

UK construction and property

  • Eco red tape | The House of Lords built environment committee is to investigate the impact of environmental requirements on cost and project delivery. It will not form a view on the merits of the requirements, just how they are implemented and the relationship between different regulations.
  • Net zero | A survey by the British Property Federation revealed that nine out of ten senior property leaders think that current Government policies will fail to deliver net zero property sector by 2050 and that a lack of incentives to support retrofitting will hinder progress.
  • Decarbonisation of heritage buildings is being held back by the planning consent system, according to a survey of 399 English and Welsh heritage sites by Historic Houses and the Country Land & Business Association
  • Britishvolt | The new owners of Britishvolt have confirmed that they will go ahead with plans to build a £300m battery plant in Northumberland. Construction work at the site was paused as funding ran out.


  • Sales at builders’ merchants fell in the final three months of 2022. According to the Builders Merchants Federation, takings were 13.9% lower (despite prices increasing 5.4%) and sales volume was 18.3% smaller.
  • Carbon capture asphalt is being trialled in Devon on the A30. Two trials are being carried out. One uses Nynas’s biogenic binder Nypol RE and the second trial uses the same asphalt mixture but includes Shell’s new bio-component binder Cariphalte CarbonSink. Both absorb and store CO2 and do not release it back into the atmosphere, even when recycled.
  • Steel | British Steel is to close its coking ovens in Scunthorpe. This means that it will have to import coking coal and the loss of 300 jobs. Negotiations are still ongoing with the UK Government over a rescue package to allow the company to modernise, but the package was predicated on zero job losses.
  • Brick stocks have increased to their highest level in two years as housing starts have fallen. Deliveries of bricks and blocks have fallen by 16% and 18% respectively.

UK economy

  • Housing sales fell to a decade-low in January, according to data from HMRC. Sales were 7% lower than in the same period in 2022. However, housebuilders have reported increasing activity in recent weeks.
  • UK growth forecasts | Consensus Economics, which polls some of the leading forecasters, has published an improved economic outlook for the UK because of falling energy prices and better than expected business and consumer confidence. The average forecast shows a 0.6% GDP fall this year.
  • Inflation forecasts | Citi has forecast that the inflation rate in Britain could fall below 2% before the end of the year, boosting public finances before the next general election. The Bank of England forecasts inflation to be 4% in Q4.
  • Energy prices and support | Ofgem has announced that the new energy price cap will be almost £1,000 lower (to £3,280 for a typical household from April) to reflect falling wholesale prices. The Government’s Energy Price Guarantee is set at £3,000 from 1st April, an increase from the current ceiling of £2,500.
  • Migration levels | Residence visa rates rose at double their pre-pandemic pace in 2022 despite commitments to cut migration levels in the UK, with significant increases in those from Hong Kong and Ukraine. Work visas were the largest proportion, with one in three applicants coming from India. 1.4 million visas were given out in 2022, up from 0.7 million in 2019.
  • Budget boost | Despite “substantial payments” by the Treasury, Government finances saw a surprise boost from self-assessed tax receipts.

Global economy

  • Coal plants | China has approved the construction of 106 gigawatts of coal-fired power capacity, encouraged by the high cost of power. The pipeline is at the highest level since 2015 and four times the amount in 2022.
  • US jobs | Despite the low jobless rate, companies in America have reported that it is becoming easier to hire and applications for vacancies are increasing

Friday to Friday

Price / Index Week %
Annual %
FTSE 100 7,878.66 -1.59 5.20
FTSE 250 19,696.53 -1.95 -5.79
Nikkei 27,453.48 -0.22 3.69
CSI 300 4,061.05 0.66 -11.20
S&P 500 3,970.04 -2.67 -9.46
Nasdaq 11,394.94 -3.33 -16.79
CAC 40 7,187.27 -2.18 6.44
Dax 15,209.74 -1.76 4.41
$ per £ 1.1946 -0.57 -10.86
€ per £ 1.1328 0.68 -4.83
Gold £/oz 1,516.43 -0.90 7.67
Brent Oil $/barrel 82.82 -0.22 -15.43

Weekly Summary

The economic picture for the year is clearing with commentators tentatively suggesting that the year won’t be quite as challenging as previously thought, but we are not yet out of an uncertain and difficult period.

Over recent months it has been apparent that the appetite for more sustainable ways of working has not abated despite market challenges, but there is greater awareness of the enablers that need to be in place to support businesses to do better. Planning, incentives and the skills base have all come into closer focus recently.

Author contact

Rachel Coleman
Rachel Coleman,
Associate Research Analyst