The 0.2% fall in GDP in the first quarter of the year sinks the UK into its first double dip recession since the seventies and raises pressure on the Government to stimulate the economy.
The latest economic data showed construction dragging down the overall economy after it fell 3% in the first three months of 2012.
The preliminary figures also means the industry is now officially in recession again after a 0.2% fall in GDP in the last quarter of 2011.
The worrying economic figures will heighten calls for the chancellor to soften his austerity drive and stimulate construction.
Noble Francis, Construction Products Association Economics Director said: ‘Given the sharp effects of public sector spending cuts over the past 12 months it is unsurprising to see that construction returned to recession in the first quarter with a fall of 3% following the 0.2% fall in Q4.
“With new orders for construction falling 14% in 2011, the industry is likely to endure further falls near-term.
“Given that independent economic analysis has shown clearly that for every £1 spent in construction, £2.84 is generated for the wider economy, it is essential that government does its utmost to switch its current spending towards the more productive capital spending.”
Mike Leonard, director of the Modern Masonry Alliance, said: “This double dip is hugely damaging.
“We have repeatedly warned that a failure to drive the construction of new homes, RMI and infrastructure would result in a lack of growth and rising unemployment.”
The poor six month period means that construction output decreased by 0.5% in the 12 months to March this year.
Simon Rawlinson, Head of Strategic Research at EC Harris said: “We have effectively lost the gains that were made in 2011 and repeated the pattern of 2010 when we saw a loss of 9.3% over a six month period.”