UK contractors’ overseas workload fell by £600m in 1999, according to figures from the DETR.

The value of overseas building and civil engineering contracts controlled from the UK fell from £4.3bn in 1998 to £3.7bn in 1999.

The DETR said the drop was largely because of international contractors switching control of contracts away from the UK.

In the UK, construction output rose 3% in the second quarter of 2000 compared with 1999.

The figures show increases in new work output in the public and private housing sectors and infrastructure compared with 1999. The sectors rose 33%, 3% and 3% respectively.

The Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply’s construction activity index for August also showed that total order books were growing, despite weaker growth in housing. The index recorded a figure of 57.8, down from 58.9 in July but still above the 50 no-change mark.