Firms cut back as winter bites


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The Independent Online

Builders are heading into a "long, dark winter" as firms cut jobs at the fastest pace for more than a year, a new survey warned yesterday.

The Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply's latest construction snapshot showed the sector crawling back to marginal growth in October, but new orders are in a sustained decline and firms reported the biggest drop in staffing levels since August last year. Cips chief executive David Noble said: "The prospects for the construction sector are bleak as firms prepare for the worst. They are heading into a long, dark winter by shedding jobs and laying off subcontractors in response to the longest decline in new business since the start of the financial crisis in 2008-09."

The industry's woes deepened over the summer with a 2.5 per cent slide between July and September despite a 1 per cent advance for the economy overall. Yesterday's survey showed a fifth month in a row of declining housebuilding activity, with only civil engineering registering any growth.

IHS Global Insight's Howard Archer said government initiatives were needed on infrastructure and housebuilding.