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

Construction orders fell by 15% in the past three months to £6.7bn, according to UK government figures out today.

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 £912m, was just half that for the same period in 2007.

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

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

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

Click here for the full figures.