New orders in the building industry fell by more than a quarter in the final three months of last year, suggesting a sharp deterioration in business investment that is likely to cut deeply into the UK economy this year.
Construction orders were down by 26%, but the fall was even greater when a jump in volatile infrastructure orders was excluded, figures from the Office for National Statistics show.
While much of the past year’s decline has been in the house building sector, as house prices plunged, a quickening drop has been seen in orders for commercial and industrial property.
Commercial construction orders fell by more than 40% in the final quarter, compared with a year earlier, following a 27% drop in the previous three months – the largest quarterly fall since records began in 1983. Orders for industrial building fell by 36%, compared with a 13% decline in the third quarter.