THE NUMBER of self-employed construction workers fell by more than 84,000 in the year to Octo-
And more than 56,000 have come onto the books since the April tax changes.
But the massive drift towards direct employment has not been accompanied by the expected growth in the industry during the second half of this year.
The findings are contained in a raft of figures released by the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) and the National Council of Building Materials Producers.
The latest government output and employment figures show the number of workers in direct
employment in October 1997 was four per cent higher compared with July 1997 and 13 per cent higher compared with October 1996.
The National Council of Build-ing Materials Producers this week downgraded its earlier predictions for growth this year from 3 per cent to 2.5 per cent. Next year, the industry should grow by 3.5 per cent.
It predicts that leisure developments, new office blocks and Lottery- funded projects will pro-vide the main impetus for growth in the next two years.
But tough government spending plans mean public sector output will fall by 14 per cent this year.
The recovery in infrastructure work has also suffered from a slow down in the water and sewage, gas and rail sectors.
The massive slump in the cable industry has also had a major impact.
According to government figures, new orders in the industry in October were also down on September.
Work won by contractors between August and October was 1 per cent lower than the previous quarter, but 3 per cent higher compared with last year.
Prospects for construction in Western Europe next year have improved, despite the slump in the German building industry.
Forecasts from the Euroconstruct study group predict that 10 of the 15 countries represented are expecting higher output than anticipated months ago.