Data released today showing the level of building materials imports into the UK provides a further indication of the depth of the recession facing construction.

Historically the material import figures provide a good gauge for the state of the UK construction market.

The data shows that in the third quarter of this year the UK construction industry spent £3.2 billion on imported building materials and components. In sterling cash terms that was the same amount as in the same period a year ago.

But given the plunge of about 15% in the value of the Pound against the Euro and considerable inflation in building material costs, this suggests a dramatic drop in the volume of imports.

While it is unwise to draw too much inference from one quarter's figures, the data does support the fears that construction is slowing fast.

The upside with the falling Pound is that is should help exports. And in cash terms exports over the six months April to September were up 13% on the same period a year ago.