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One third of small building firms expect workload drops in 2010

Nearly one in three small building companies are expecting their workloads to fall this year according to the latest state of trade survey from the Federation of Master Builders.

The survey also reveals that 56 per cent have seen a reduction in the amount of private sector housing work in the first quarter of this year compared with the last quarter of 2009.

The gloomy survey results come just a day after the latest Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply purchasing managers’ index revealed the first growth in the construction industry since February 2008.

FMB director general Richard Diment said: “The results from our latest state of trade survey show that the building industry in still in recession.

“The majority of building companies are reporting lower workloads with one in three expecting a further decline in the next three months.

“What is particularly alarming is the abrupt slowdown in the amount of public sector work with 51 per cent of companies reporting lower workloads in the public sector compared to 31 per cent just three months ago.

“What this shows is that cuts in local authority budgets are already hitting a hard pressed building industry and future prospects after the general election do not look good.”

Mr Diment added that employment prospects for small firms in the construction sector are also not good with 55 per cent of building companies not expecting to take on any new staff over the next six months.

He said: “This is bad very news for school leavers looking to get a job in the construction sector this summer.

“We are now in serious danger of repeating the mistakes of the last recession in the early 1990s when thousands of young people were denied the opportunity to learn a trade with the result that the construction sector suffered a serious skills gap when it did emerge from the recession in the mid 1990s.”