Growth in work for surveyors in the construction industry has fallen to its lowest rate in more than a decade, according to the RICS. Financial Times, Daily Telegraph

The gloomy figures for the first quarter came as house builders cut back new-build programmes.

It is unlikely that the government will now hit its housing targets.

Just 1% of chartered surveyors reported a rise in workload in the past three months, down from 16% in the fourth quarter of 2007. The worst hit sector was private housing, where workload growth turned negative for the first time since 1999.

The news will come as further evidence that the government is fighting an uphill battle to achieve its target of 240,000 new homes a year.

Anecdotally, housebuilders predict that this year could see new housing levels fall as low as 150,000 given current levels of construction, and forecasts are not much more bullish for 2009.