New construction orders fell to their lowest level since at least 1983 in November, according to official data released yesterday, as demand for building from the private sector fell sharply.

The decline in construction, which has been led over the past year by a fall in housebuilding, is increasingly being felt in new construction of industrial and commercial projects as businesses pull back from investment.

New orders were down 14% compared to October on a seasonally adjusted basis, and are now down 40% since April. Orders on a monthly basis can be volatile, but over the three months to November, orders were down 9% compared to the three months before that and down 27% compared to a year earlier – also a record.

'The UK economic news remains relentlessly dire,' said Michael Saunders, an economist at Citigroup. 'The rapid plunge in construction activity [fits] in with other signs that the economy is in severe recession.'

Financial Times, The Times