Construction work increased during the third quarter of this year, despite a fall in government investment in the transport sector.

The Construction Industry Trade Surveys, compiled by the Construction Confederation and the Construction Products Association, found that half of building contractors reported increased output compared with a year ago. Product manufacturers’ sales also rose, led by growth on the light side of the industry. The sales figures of manufacturers on the heavy side were static in the same period.

By contrast, civil engineers reported a fall in workload from last year, which the survey attributed to a lack of public investment in road and rail.

Michael Ankers, the chief executive of the CPA, said: “The surveys highlight increased investment in schools, hospitals and social housing; they also reveal that poor investment in transport infrastructure remains a brake on overall industry growth.”

He added: “It is vital that the government now sets out a clear schedule of specific projects for the next three years in order to deliver promised improvements.”

The surveys highlight increased investment in schools, hospitals and social housing

Michael Ankers, CPA chief executive

Stephen Ratcliffe, chief executive of the Construction Confederation, agreed. He said: “With private housing activity expected to cool over the coming months in response to recent interest rate rises, the surveys’ findings underline the importance of government investment programmes to sustaining industry output, confidence, investment and training.”

The report revealed that the market for skilled labour is still tight. Contractors report continued difficulties in recruiting bricklayers, electricians, carpenters and plasterers. However, only 12% of contractors reported that labour shortages had caused them to turn down work during the previous three months.

Public non-housing work was the fastest growing sector during the quarter, and significant balances of contractors reported year-on-year increases in new housing and housing repair work.