The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said output fell 0.6 per cent month-on-month, compared with economists’ estimates for a 0.3 per cent rise. A drop in infrastructure work and a slowdown in repair and maintenance activity dented progress.
Year-on-year figures were more upbeat, however, with construction output rising 0.7 per cent compared with October 2015, versus estimates of no growth.
ONS senior statistician Kate Davies said: “October saw the biggest jump in private house building for almost a year though less work on commercial buildings and infrastructure projects saw overall construction output down on the month.
“Meanwhile, new construction orders fell in the third quarter, thanks mainly to a large fall in orders for public projects such as schools and hospitals.”
Scottish Building Federation managing director Vaughan Hart noted that total output from the construction sector north of the Border during the third quarter topped £3.7 billion, down marginally on the £3.9bn recorded in the same period a year earlier.
However, output from the private housing and private commercial sectors and from repair and maintenance were all up compared to the third quarter of 2015, helping to offset a decline in infrastructure output.
Hart said: “These new figures suggest that the Brexit vote has had no immediate effect on the performance of the Scottish construction sector.
“We anticipated a slowdown in infrastructure activity as major projects such as the Queensferry Crossing draw to a close. More concerning is an ongoing slump in private industrial output with the removal of empty property rates relief having a negative impact on that sector of the industry.”
The ONS made an upward revision to its third-quarter UK construction figures, saying that activity fell 0.8 per cent compared to previous estimates of a 1.1 per cent drop.
IHS Market economist Chris Williamson said: “Official data provide tentative signs that the construction industry and exporters are seeing some signs of improved performance after the post-referendum soft patch. However, construction data and trade numbers are highly volatile.”