The Grenfell disaster is driving an unexpected UK construction boom as builders rush to repair unsafe housing

Grenfell TowerGetty ImagesThe remains on Grenfell Tower 12 days after the fire.

LONDON — Britain’s construction sector is increasingly optimistic about its hiring plans as urgent repairs to social housing following the Grenfell fire disaster increase demand for building work.

Manpower’s quarterly survey of employers found that those in the construction sector reported a net employment outlook of +11% for the final quarter of 2017.

That represents the strongest outlook of any UK sector and a 6% increase on the third quarter.

Employment outlook by sector, Q4 2017

A fire in June at Grenfell Tower, a social housing block in west London, spread through cladding on the building which subsequently failed safety tests, claiming at least 80 lives.

Many other public housing projects — particularly high-rise buildings — have since failed safety tests relating to unsafe cladding and undergone urgent repairs.

James Hick, managing director for Manpower Group Solutions, said expansion in the construction sector was driven by those bids to improve public housing.

“Construction hiring often slows in the winter months, but the UK is set to buck the trend this year — our data suggests this could be the strongest fourth quarter for hiring since 2005,” he said.

“Some of this work is the urgent testing and repair that is being carried out up and down the country on much of Britain’s public housing stock.

“The state of housing in the country is under the microscope like never before and the need for both building and remedial work have caused demand in the construction industry to shoot up.”

The survey found UK employers were generally more optimistic about hiring plans than the previous quarter. It found that 7% of employers plan to hire more people in the final quarter of the year, compared to 2% who plan to cut jobs.

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