DETR figures released this week have shown that the construction sector is continuing to grow.
The statistics show that new orders for the year to March stood at £29.01bn, up 7% on the year before. Orders for the first three months of the year jumped 13% to £7.8bn compared with the last quarter of 2000.

The biggest increases for the year to March were in infrastructure orders (up 15%) and private commercial orders (up 15%).

However, private housing orders fell 6% over the period. The DETR also found that new housing starts fell 3100 to 14,900 in March this year compared with 18,000 in March 2000.

Meanwhile, the Builders Merchants Federation has claimed the foot-and-mouth crisis that crippled the countryside and closed building sites cut sales for its members by up to 20%.

A survey found that trade was down because members were not able to make site visits to quarantined areas.

The BMF said this might be partly responsible for a slowdown in sales for the first quarter of the year. National sales were up 0.1% compared with last year.