Order books for the three months to May were 8% down on the previous quarter, according to the latest DETR figures.

Declining orders in all sectors resulted in order books 10% slimmer than a year ago, with a total value of £5.417bn in March-May compared with £6.019bn in the same period in 1999.

However, the DETR said the figures are not in steady decline – May’s orders were 2% higher than April’s.

The 8% drop in the three months to May reflected a 7% fall in private housing orders on the previous quarter, and a 19% drop in public and housing association orders.

Public non-housing orders were 18% down, private industrial fell 8% and private commercial were 7% down. Infrastructure orders were 3% lower than the previous quarter, but 2% up on a year earlier.

  • Figures from the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply for June show a slowdown in the rate of growth compared with May. The CIPS construction activity index stood at 61.2 last month, down from 61.5. However, this was still well above the no-change mark of 50.