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New figures show biggest drop in construction in five years

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Construction output has suffered its biggest annual fall in almost five years, official figures have revealed

Data released by the Office for National Statistics today show that the volume of work done by the industry fell 3.9 per cent in the 12 months to January 2018, its biggest fall since March 2013.

Public housing was down 4.6 per cent in the year to January 2018, although the private housing sector was a rare bright spot, growing by 0.8 per cent.

At £12.61 billion, the total value of new construction work in January was down 3.4 per cent from December on a seasonally adjusted basis.

The three months to the end of January 2018 saw 1 per cent less work than the previous three months – the ninth successive fall by this measure.

Rebecca Larkin, senior economist at the Construction Products Association, said 2018 was ‘unlikely to herald a resurgence in industry growth’.

She added: ‘The fall in activity in January is likely to have been worsened by any pause on projects due to the liquidation of Carillion in the middle of the month. The snow disruption in February and March adds to the downside forces on construction during the opening quarter of the new year.’

Blane Perrotton, managing director of property consultancy Naismiths, described the figures as ‘grim’. ‘After ending 2017 weakly, the construction industry has got off on the wrong foot in 2018,’ he said.

Such a sustained slowdown can no longer be dismissed as a blip

‘Such a sustained slowdown can no longer be dismissed as a blip. Housebuilders continue to buck the downward trend, but are powerless to reverse it.

‘As long as the Brexit melodrama continues, the pattern of intermittent growth and slowdown is likely to hamper the industry’s progress.’

The RIBA revealed last week that architecture practices reported a 4 per cent drop in the value of work in progress this January compared with the same month last year.

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