Growth returns after six months in doldrums

George Osborne's efforts to fire up the housing market have pushed builders back into growth for the first time in six months, a survey showed yesterday.

The activity index from the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply (Cips) signalled the construction industry's first expansion since last October as housebuilding work roared ahead at the fastest pace for more than two years.

The Chancellor's Help to Buy package of equity loans and mortgage guarantees has proved controversial amid worries that it might fuel a new housing bubble. But the survey findings at least hint that housebuilders are gearing up to increase the supply of homes.

David Noble, the chief executive of Cips, said the scheme had "given months of lacklustre growth a shot in the arm".

He added: "The construction sector seems to have turned a corner after six dismal months."

But the good news was confined to the housebuilders as commercial building and civil engineering remained in the doldrums. Rising confidence over prospects is also yet to translate into new jobs.