I recognise that I have said this time and again and probably will say it a few times more - but don't underplay the impact of rising inflation.

I can already hear echoes of overexcited managment consultants suggesting to clients to take note of what is rising in the east and smell the coffee.

It is not just about managing cost pressures on projects, tough as that will be. The issue is more basic. High inflation will threaten projects where budgets are fixed.

Alistair Darling has made plain that what budget a government department has is the budget they will have to stick to. That means that in volume terms there will be less work going ahead for the construction clients within the public sector than had been hoped for.

Because one thing is pretty much certain, the assumptions of inflation built into the departmental settlements will be well below the wave of inflation that is passing through construction right now.

And don't think that private firms will be any more generous. Planned projects will be shelved.