New orders in the third quarter fell 5% on the second quarter and were 16% down on a year ago, according to the latest DETR figures.

The figures show that contractors on public “non-housing” jobs fared the worst. In this sector, third-quarter orders – for the period July to September – were down almost 22% on the previous quarter and 8% on the same period a year ago.

Companies working on industrial jobs were only marginally better off. Orders fell 3% on the previous quarter and were 13% lower than in the same period last year.

The booming market in the third quarter of 1998 also made this year’s private commercial work figures look poor. Orders fell 22% year on year but only 9% quarter on quarter.

Housing fared better overall. Orders for private housing rose 8% on the previous quarter but were 12% down on the same time last year. Public housing orders rose 29% on the second quarter and 7% on the corresponding period in 1998. The DETR estimates that 15 800 dwellings were started in Great Britain in September, compared with 15 500 in September 1998. However, estimated completions were down 400 on the previous year at 13 600.