The UK's construction sector faces a "lost decade" after a record slump in output during 2009 and another three years of pain, an industry body warned today.
The Construction Products Association (CPA) says the industry will not see a "significant increase" in output until 2012 and is braced for a 16 per cent decline this year.
It says that by 2013, the industry will have only returned to output levels seen in 1999 - wiping out more than a decade of growth.
The association says just 72,000 new homes will be built this year - the lowest figure since 1924 and more than 20 per cent below last year.
The body predicts a 5 per cent fall in output in 2010 after this year's record fall - representing a bigger decline than seen in any other post-war recession.
With first the credit crunch and then recession dealing a hammer blow to commercial, industrial and retail projects, chief executive Michael Ankers said construction would be in an "even worse" state without current public spending programmes.
And he warned that this funding would also come under real pressure following the general election as the next Government attempts to repair the public finances.
"The real concern is that with the current state of the public finances, cuts in these government funded schemes are almost inevitable after the election and it is very doubtful that there will be any significant recovery in private sector investment to fill the gap," Mr Ankers said.
The association forecasts office construction could fall by 50 per cent in less than two years, with retail new build slumping more than 40 per cent by the end of 2010.
Official figures last week showed construction's output decline deepening during the first three months of 2009 - falling 6.9 per cent compared with 5 per cent in the last three months of 2008.
This contributed to a 2.4 per cent decline for the economy overall between January and March - the worst since 1958.