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More than 5 per cent of the uk's gross domestic product is spent on building maintenance, says the Building Maintenance Research Group. The 1996 total was over £38 billion - more than the output of the agriculture and mining industries combined.

Last year the British public gambled £40 billion, nearly the equivalent of the Irish Republic's gdp. Some £8 billion went on slot machines, more than the turnover of all but 13 of the ftse 100 companies. Only one in 10 British adults has never gambled.

The proportion of homes in owner-occupation will increase from 67 per cent in 1995 to 72 per cent in 2016, predicts the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. It says the 40,000 'social homes' being built each year provide less than half the level required.

Nineteen local-authority projects, with a value of £158 million, are to be the subject of Private Finance Initiative deals. They include construction of police and fire stations.

More than 70 million tonnes of construction and demolition waste are produced in the uk each year, says the Construction Industry Research & Information Association. It has launched new handbooks outlining ways of minimising or recycling this material.

Tender prices in the South-east are 14 per cent higher than in the North, says a study by the Building Cost Information Service.

About 50 billion cups of tea are drunk each year in the uk, according to industry sources.

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