My good friend Martin Hewes passed me a copy of the latest forecast from Hewes & Associates. It's not good news, I'm afraid. His last forecast was pretty bleak, this is bleaker still.

The headline figure of note is the 11.3% drop in new work next year. With a slightly more muted 7.6% drop in RMI work, the figures suggest an overall drop in construction output of 9.7% in 2009. And that comes after the industry falls into recession this year.

If reality follows the path plotted by this forecast, construction is set for a worse recession than in the 1990s. New work is set for a particularly heavy beating.

Overall the industry would be starved of £19 billion (at today's prices) worth of annual output by 2010.

The first point to make is that the Hewes forecasts tend to be more pessimistic than either of those from the Construction Products Association or the Experian Business Strategy.

The philosophy might be summed up as "plan for the worst, hope for the best".

As with all forecasts, the final numbers rest on the assumptions made and interpretations of upside and downside risks. The final numbers are not meant to be predictions, but reasoned projections based on what we know today.

The value really lies in the analysis, from which each reader can draw their own conclusions and interpret in the light of their own business expectations and experiences.

Anyway the base numbers provide the headlines, so here's my take.

I suspect there will be many who will dismiss this forecast. But that cohort probably will not include those engaged in house building.

What has blackened the prospects in the eyes of Hewes is the deterioration in the giant commercial sector. After dipping slightly this year, Hewes expects workload to plunge 18% next year, with a further 10.3% drop in 2010.

That drop in commercial work will heavily contribute to the drop of more than £11 billion in the annual spend on new construction work by 2010.

There are some slight positives in the forecast. Public sector new housing and infrastructure work look relatively sound. And the prospects for public non-housing look fairly stable over the next two years.

Hewes does however take a bleaker view of the repair and maintenance sector than did the latest Construction Products Association forecast and this makes the forecast overall much bleaker. Hewes puts the drop in RMI workload by 2010 at about £8 billion.

Here I must repeat what I have said before, that it is a very fraught task forecasting workload in this sector because the official figures appear somewhat out of kilter with the real world, particularly where they related to private housing.

The official figures suggest a rise in private housing RMI in the second quarter.

That is not what the tradesman currently painting in my office is telling me. Nor does it match the number of skips I see lurking around the streets. Nor does it fit with the trade survey by the FMB.

The only vaguely plausible explanation, which was half-heartedly put my way, was that it may be down to delayed work putting right last year's flood damage. I along with many remain unconvinced.

The last recession saw RMI work take a nasty hit, worse than new build, and there is little to suspect that it will be that much different this time around.

We can but hope that reality does not, in the end, follow the path laid out in this latest forecast. We live in turbulent times and it is beyond me to suggest what will actually happen.