Workloads for small and medium-sized contractors are holding up despite fears of a recession, according to figures released by the Federation of Master Builders.
Order books throughout the UK grew 35% from July to September, though this figure masks large regional differences.

The FMB's trade survey for the third quarter of this year reports that workloads in Scotland have nearly doubled compared with London, which rose only 2%.

Workload in north-west England increased 48%, in the East Midlands 69% and the West Midlands 60%. Workloads in Northern Ireland fell 35% and in Wales by 26%.

The FMB claimed that the small increase in London work is partly because of labour shortages rather than concerns over the wider economy.

Ian Davis, the federation's director-general, said homeowners seemed to be ignoring reports of an economic slowdown and were continuing to fuel demand.

Davis said there were shortages of skilled workers and that this meant that some contractors were turned down because there was no labour available for them.

The report added that over the next three weeks, 30% of builders expected an increase in work, against 20% who expected a downturn.

In London, 90% of firms reported recruitment difficulties.