Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that new orders in the second quarter dropped 16.3% versus the first three months of the year and 23.2% below the same period last year.
A survey of construction industry purchasing managers also paint a grim picture, with employment down for the third month in a row.
Construction Products Association chief executive Michael Ankers said: “This is an alarming set of figures at a time when the economy is already slowing and the construction industry is seen as having a major part to play in rebalancing the economy. Whilst the fall in public sector orders of 30% is no surprise given the cut back in public sector spending, it is particularly alarming to see the fall in new orders for private sector construction – down 8% on the first quarter of the year and 10% down on the same quarter last year. Within this new orders for private housing have fallen again (down 8% on the first three months of the year) and orders for commercial work are now back to where they were in the middle of 2009.
“Government has to take these figures very seriously and whilst maintaining its commitment to addressing the country’s long term budget deficit it needs to find ways to bring forward some of the key infrastructure projects that will help stimulate economic growth. It also needs to continue to keep pressure on the banks to make finance available for house purchase and other investments. Finally, it should ensure its planning reforms are not blown off course by those whose agenda is not focused on ensuring a sustainable economic recovery in this country.”