Government figures reveal sharp fall in housing orders only partly offset by a big increase in infrastructure work

Construction orders have fallen by 15% in the past three months to £6.7 bn, according to government figures.

Orders in the quarter to the end of August were down by 18% on the same quarter in 2007, with the drop led by sharp falls in orders for private housing, although this was partly offset by a strong upturn in public sector contracts.

The seasonally adjusted figures, from the Office for National Statistics, show that the value of private housing orders, at £912 m, was just half that for the same period in 2007.

Private non-housing orders have also dropped by 39% on the same quarter last year, and by 30% on the previous three months, to £2.59 bn.

However, overall construction figures were bolstered by large increases in orders for infrastructure works, which were up by almost 60% on the same period last year to £1.36 bn, and for public sector non-housing work, up 19% on 2007.

Orders for the 12 months to August were 7% lower than the previous year.