Construction orders tumble as spending cuts bite

Aaron Morby 13 years ago
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Sharp falls in publicly funded work sent construction orders diving 14% in the third quarter against the same time last year.

The only areas of the industry to show any uplift were commercial work and private house building, orders in all other areas of construction slumped.

Compared to the previous months April-June total construction orders slid by 4% in the third quarter, according to the Government’s official figures.

Infrastructure saw the biggest fall, crashing 27% against the previous period and more than half the haul at the same time last year.

This is the lowest level of orders for four years, in a sector that counted itself lucky to escape brutal Government cuts during the spending review.  Infrastructure order levels are notoriously volatile because of swings in the national statistics caused by big orders on projects like Crossrail.

Excluding infrastructure, orders for publicly funded non-housing projects like schools and health centres fell 24% compared with the previous three months and 37% against  a year ago.

This is the weakest volume since the fourth quarter of 2007 and reflects big cuts in school building.

Private house builders delivered the biggest growth with orders up by a half on the previous quarter, despite softening house prices around most of the country.

But it was a very different picture for public housing orders, down 22% on the previous period and nearly half the level a year ago.

The surge in office projects in London and supermarket and shopping centre schemes around the country helped commercial orders maintain their steady recovery, up 7% compared with the previous quarter and ahead 28% compared with the same period a year earlier.

Private industrial orders in the third quarter continued their long-running decline, down 16% against a year ago.

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