The recession is casting a longer shadow with every passing month.

With so many employers cutting staff, most workplaces will be experiencing empty desk syndrome and survivors’guilt. For individuals made redundant – such as the trio on our cover – there is insecurity and the bitter knowledge that the rules they played by no longer exist.

Last month’s budget seems to have acted as a focal point for the industry’s fears. Yes, there was welcome news on new funds for housebuilding, FE colleges and the low-carbon economy.

But these figures are dwarfed by the cumulative cuts in capital investment over the next five years – cuts that will choke workload in health, education, housing and transport.

To a certain extent, the recession is the simultaneous unravelling of aspects of our economy that were unsustainable anyway. Private housebuilding was dependent on an inflationary bubble in land and property values. Speculative office and retail development were based on over-optimistic projections of economic growth. PFI projects depended on a banking system with an unsatiable appetite for risk.

Take these away, and what’s left? Existing buildings that need to be maintained and upgraded to meet carbon reduction targets, especially as we’re no longer building the 21st century at such speed. Housing demand figures that demand new innovative housebuilding models. And the need to build something the boom years totally overlooked – a new national energy infrastructure.

It’s a new landscape. But as individuals facing redundancy or companies planning their strategy for the future, we need to recognise that the old one isn’t coming back.