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  • Skills shortages are the biggest drag on construction growth, according the Q1 2015 Construction Market Survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). A total of 63% of members reported skills shortages as impeding growth in the first quarter of 2015. The proportion citing material shortages as a hindrance was lower at 45%, down from 60% in the survey covering 2014 Q4. Surveyors remain optimistic about the outlook for growth, with a net balance of 79% expecting further rises in workloads over the next 12 months; the average expectation for growth in 2015 was 3.8%. 


  • UK retail sales dipped between February and March this year, but the longer run trend remains positive, according to ONS data. The quantity of goods bought last month was 4.2% higher than March 2014; though the amount spent increased by just 0.7% over the same period, reflecting low inflation and price competition by retailers. 
  • Gross mortgage lending picked up to £16.5 billion in March, a 21% rise on the previous month, according to The Council of Mortgage Lenders. Subdued levels of approvals during January and February meant that Q1 saw lending decrease by 12% from Q4 2014 and by 3% on a year earlier. However in March alone lending was 7% higher than a year earlier, suggesting that the mortgage slump may be coming to an end.

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