Figures released by the Office for National Statistics for Q3 2012 release show that the construction industry’s output declined for the fifth consecutive quarter.

Output fell by 11.3 per cent compared with the same period in 2011. With new work sliding by 14.5 per cent, the underlying picture confirms fears that recovery in the industry may still be some way off.

Infrastructure growth was not enough to offset declines in private commercial or in repair and maintenance which fell 17.4 per cent and 4.8 per cent respectively.

Julia Evans, chief executive of the National Federation of Builders, said: “These figures are a stark reminder that, while the rest of the economy is showing tentative signs of growth, the government should not take its eye off the ball with regards to construction.

“The government’s moves to streamline and speed up planning, fast track and fund infrastructure with £40 billion and fund housing with £10 billion will not yield immediate results, but they are the building blocks necessary to ensure a sustainable recovery for construction.

Steve McGuckin, UK managing director of the global programme management consultancy Turner & Townsend, commented: “With output tumbling to its lowest level in 13 years, it’s almost as if the last decade’s construction boom never happened.

“The economy as a whole might be on the road to recovery, but the construction sector is stuck in reverse.

“The fragility of business confidence has taken a toll on private commercial construction. At 17.4% down on the same time last year, it has now fallen past even the low it reached in the 2009 recession.

“Many in the industry had hoped that if they could just limp through 2012, next year would be better. But with the sector continuing to contract, the optimists are being forced into a drastic rethink.”