Local authorities spent £4.8bn on construction during Covid-19

New research has revealed the UK local authorities that are increasing their construction funding at the fastest rate, with some councils upping their spend by more than 5,000% over five years.

IronmongeryDirect issued Freedom of Information requests to each local authority and asked how much they spent on construction projects, including buildings, roads and railways, in the 2015/16 and 2020/21 financial years, to see how investment has changed over time.

Despite the impact of the pandemic, almost half (49%) of the local authorities that responded spent more on construction in 2020/21 than they did five years earlier.

Funding across the UK rose by over £100 million (3%) from £4.63 billion in 2015/16, to £4.77 billion in 2020/21. In the last financial year, each local authority splashed out an average of £28 million on construction.

Twenty-nine councils more than doubled the amount they spent on the industry and the average increase across the country was a remarkable 154%.

The average increase stands so high because nine local authorities saw rises of over 1,000%.

Welwyn Hatfield council, in the East of England, reported the greatest increase – a staggering 5,482% (£763,863 up to over £42.5 million).

Local authorities that have increased construction at the fastest rate over the last five years (2015/16 to 2020/21):

#Local AuthorityRegion2015/16 Construction Investment2020/21 Construction Investment% Change
1Welwyn Hatfield CouncilEast of England£763,863£42,639,8305,482%
2Pembrokeshire CouncilWales£930,767£29,769,4983,098%
3Surrey Heath Borough CouncilSouth East£934,617£18,578,0631,888%
4Broadland District CouncilEast of England£9,976£180,8101,712%
5North Norfolk District CouncilEast of England£461,926£7,012,9371,418%
6Braintree District CouncilEast of England£2,332,542£28,345,9051,115%
7Stoke-on-Trent City CouncilWest Midlands£640,804£7,618,9761,089%
8West LindseyEast Midlands£314,684£3,732,8991,086%
9Shepway District CouncilSouth East£4,335,470£49,774,8311,048%
10Rother District CouncilSouth East£565,413£5,980,419958%

Out of all the local authorities, Leeds City Council spent the largest overall amount, with a total of £389.8 million allocated for construction. The authority also recorded nationwide highs for both general construction costs (£272.1 million) and road infrastructure (£117.6 million).

Birmingham City Council, meanwhile, spent the largest amount on building construction (£279.8 million), whilst Pembrokeshire Council spent the most on open spaces (£9 million), such as parks, play areas and gardens.

Hertfordshire County Council topped the list for bridges, having spent £9.6 million.

Dominick Sandford, Managing Director at IronmongeryDirect, said: “After the difficulties the construction industry has faced over the last two years due to the Covid 19 pandemic, it’s incredibly reassuring to see large scale increases in local funding across the UK. With the industry continuing to recover from recent setbacks, it’s a positive sign that many local authorities are feeling confident enough to increasing their investment into local infrastructure and construction work.”

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