CONSTRUCTION faces another government downgrade under plans to shift its output and orders statistics team from the Department of Trade & Industry to the Offi ce of National Statistics (ONS).
The move follows the scrapping of the construction ministry before responsibility for construction was switched to the Department of Trade & Industry early in New Labour's second term.
Industry bodies fear that moving the team, responsible for quarterly output and new order statistics, to the ONS will lead to less robust and detailed figures.
A joint DTI/ONS working group is to report on the plan to DTI permanent secretary Sir Robin Young and ONS chief statistician Len Cook next week.
'The main worry is that it is further evidence of a downgrading of the importance of construction, ' said Construction Forecasting & Research associate director James Hastings.
'We used to have a fully fl ged construction ministry with everything in one place.' Hastings added that the quarterly statistics were vital to business planners at consultants and contractors.
It is feared that switching the department from Bristol will break up a tried and tested locally based team. 'The team has been together for a very long time and our concern is that some of the experts will leave, ' said Construction Products Association director Alan Wilen.