The number of small and medium-sized contractors seeking employment advice has fallen to its lowest level in more than a year, the National Federation of Builders has revealed

Calls to the body’s employment helpline, which deals mainly with redundancy issues, fell to 193 in September compared with 229 in August.

It is the lowest figure since August 2008, when 171 people contacted the advice service.

That figure rose to 281 the following month, reaching its peak in March this year when there were almost 500 enquiries.

Despite the sign of green shoots, the NFB warned its members not to be overly optimistic, as the number of calls made this year is already 10 higher than the 2,736 made in 2008.

Julia Evans, chief executive of the NFB, said: “We are clearly not out of the woods yet. As unemployment continues to rise and the available stock of commercial property starts to get slowly eaten up, the long-term pipeline of construction work remains increasingly dependent on public spending.”

She added: “The threat of funding cuts from central government casts a dark shadow over the industry just at the time when its downturn appears to be bottoming out.”