INFRASTRUCTURE ORDERS plunged to their lowest level in sixteen years in 2004, according to fi ures released by the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) last week.
Orders dropped 28% from £4.4bn in 2003 to £3.2bn in 2004, according to seasonally adjusted figures quoted at 2000 prices.
Last year saw the lowest fi ure since 1988, when the total was £2.8bn. Infrastructure orders cover roads, railways and water sector.
ut public non-housing orders have grown, boosted by spending on schools and hospitals. Last year public non-housing orders increased from £5bn to £5.3bn. This compares with a fi gure of £3.8bn in 2000.
The DTI said that falling infrastructure workload was offset by rising orders from the private commercial sector.
These increased from £7.8bn to £9.3bn.
Publication of the figures confirmed fi ndings in the latest state of trade survey conducted by the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA).
CECA reported that orders were hit by falling workload in the highways sector.
It said that the fall in central government funding for roads was cushioned in part by increased work in the water and rail sectors, where recent fi ve year spending programmes have been confirmed.
But most civils contractors are now reporting lower or static orders, with only a third saying workload was increasing.