Construction output has continued to fall after the Office for National Statistics  announced a 2.6% decline construction industry output in January.

The fall is the sharpest drop in output since 2013. The new figures follow on from the 0.6% drop in December and show new work orders fell during the month by 4.2%.

According to the ONS, private commercial work fell by 6.6% last month, with infrastructure work falling 2.7% and total housing by 5%. The drop in housing was attributed by the ONS to weak mortgage lending and high house prices, which has dampened demand. The new figures showed that public work had dropped by 18.4%, and private housing was down 1.3%. Construction output is now 3.1% lower than the same period last year.

Commenting on today’s ONS figures, Chris Temple, engineering and construction leader at PwC, said: “Despite these latest figures, we continue to expect the sector to show solid, healthy growth during 2015. As we approach the general election, it is possible that we will see a further temporary slowdown in new orders. However, we don’t expect that this will be significant enough to counteract the upward trend of growth for the year and there is still strong confidence in the sector for 2015 and beyond.

“There is a lack of large infrastructure projects at the moment, accounting for the lull in that part of the sector. Furthermore, uncertainty about the economy in Europe has knock-on effects for business confidence and the short-term order books of construction firms.

“There are no indications that this will become a longer-term trend, and our clients are highly optimistic for their growth prospects in 2015. Overall the picture for the construction sector is healthy.”