Latest figures from the Office of National Statics show that construction new orders in Q3 were up 12.8% on the previous quarter, but down 5.5% compared with the same period last year.
New orders in the first nine months of 2011 are 14% lower than in the same period last year.
The Construction Products Association said that the data indicated weakening prospects for a recovery in construction output.
CPA chief executive Michael Ankers said: “Although new orders have improved since the previous quarter, this is still the lowest figure for Q3 since 1980. As expected the fall is sharpest in public sector construction – education, health, and social housing - and although there is some pick up in orders for private sector commercial work, this is heavily focused in London and the south east and is not strong enough to compensate for the sharp decline in orders for public sector work.
“This week’s autumn statement brought the prospect of increased investment in infrastructure but the government’s figures show that this will not have any significant impact until 2013 at the earliest. As a result, and in the light of today’s new orders figures, the industry needs to brace itself for an even sharper fall in output in 2012 than that already anticipated.”