But latest Markit/CIPS and RICS survey point to increased optimism

The construction sector suffered the sharpest rise in costs for over eight years in January as activity growth slowed, according to the latest Markit/CIPS survey of purchasing managers.

The industry grew at its weakest rate since August, dropping to 52.2 in January - where 50 separates expansion from contraction - after December’s nine-month high of 54.2.

The survey also found the fastest jump in costs since August 2008, with the weak pound since the Brexit vote pushing up the price of imported materials.

But there were some more positive trends, with staff hiring and business optimism increasing.

The survey comes as a RICS report also out this morning suggested more industry optimism, with its survey showing both employment and workload expectations for the coming year recovering to pre-referendum levels.

The RICS also highlighted the biggest shortage in quantity surveyors since 2008, with two thirds reporting difficulties hiring.