RICS says public investment in construction fell 10% in 2005 but predicts bounceback in 2005.

Government investment in its public construction programme dropped by 10% last year, according to figures released by the RICS today.

The RICS's latest UK economic brief found that public spending struggled last year but could bounce back in 2005. The brief said: "The government seems to have encountered problems in accelerating public sector investment plans, which have failed to match original targets once again. In 2004 gross public investment fell by 10%. However.. public investment could be set for a fresh bout of momentum in 2005."

The brief said that the overall 3.6% rise in construction output last year was substantial but masked a gradual slowdown as the year progressed. Output only rose 0.8% in the last quarter of 2004.

The overall rise was down to a jump in housing orders, which rose 22% in the second half of 2004 and "defied uncertainty in the wider housing market" according to the brief.

The RICS found that infrastructure orders were still very weak after a huge drop in 2003 and that private commercial work was on its way back, helped by ongoing stability in the wider economy and low interest rates.

The brief also pointed to a gradual recovery in the office occupier market and that market conditions in housing were beginning to stabilise. It predicted that there could be a mild recovery in house prices in the latter half of 2005 "as wages and employment show further increases".