The first repercussions of the slowdown in housebuilding emerged this week with a decline in recruitment over the past year.

Robert Fry, southern regional director of recruitment firm Hays Construction & Property, said that job vacancies in the housing field were 50% down on what they were 12 months ago.

He said: “Some of the jobs that are being registered are enquiries and depend on sites going ahead, and at the moment that isn’t happening often.” Fry added that experienced applicants would still find work, but “while good applicants would have had three or four job offers, now they might get one or two”.

In the North the recruitment picture is slightly better, with vacancy levels running at about 75% of what they were this time last year.

Jeff Taylor, north-west regional manager for Hays Construction & Property, said: “Last year was phenomenal for housebuilding in the region. The lean period started in February and the outlook is more conservative.”

The downturn in staff vacancies coincides with recent rounds of redundancies; 70 positions were axed, for instance, at housebuilder Wilson Bowden over the winter. Housing research group Hometrack recorded the 11th consecutive monthly fall in house prices in May. It forecasts nil price growth for this year.