The latest survey from the civils trade body CECA into the performance and prospects of its members very much reflects the pressures on the building sector, where housing and commercial building work is being squeezed by the effects of the credit crunch.

While the outlook for civils is broadly positive, there is little chance that the civils sector will remain immune to the travails in the building sector, as a huge slice of work comes from preliminary works for development.

Overall the survey figures are robust. A positive balance of 39% of civils firms say that workload is up and a balance of 20% say they expect things to get better still over the coming year.

But the smaller civils firms have been hit - a balance of 6% say workloads are down and a balance of 4% expect life to get even tougher over the coming year.

The clue in the survey to the pessimism among smaller civils contractors lies in the rapid deterioration in the preliminary works for development, which up to last October had been bubbling along nicely. For many smaller firms this work represents their bread and butter.

But since the credit crunch bit last autumn, there has been a decline in the growth of development-related work and the April survey figures show a sharp drop in the growth in orders coming through.

Meanwhile inflationary pressures are bearing down ever harder on the margins of civils contractors.

Overall the figures seem to support the widely held view that civils contractors may be better placed than builders. But it is highly likely that some if not all will feel turbulence from the current uncertainty in the broader economy.

The real concern for the civils sector longer term, however, is just how reslient will the public sector funded projects prove to be given the financial pressures on the Treasury.