Construction companies are predicting a drop of up to 25% in public sector workloads over the next three years amid concerns that a private sector upswing will not come fast enough to offset the fall

Out of 15 of the biggest UK contractors, consultants and architects surveyed by Building, 13 said they were anticipating a drop in public sector work over the next three years, six by at least 15% and three - Balfour Beatty and architects HLM and Sheppard Robson - by as much as 25%.

The average predicted drop in public sector work, based on company-wide turnover among contractors, was 15%. Consultants also predicted an average drop of 15% whereas the architects surveyed predicted an average drop of 12% based on their UK turnovers.

The news that major firms will be steering their businesses away from a reliance on public sector work follows the £6bn of cuts announced so far - with more to follow in next month’s Budget. But as companies look to find work in other areas, there is concern that the private sector will not recover fast enough to compensate.

Jonathan Goring, managing director of Capita Symonds, described the public sector as still “the only game in town”. He said: “There will be a bit of private sector upturn. But it won’t be significant enough.”