Construction output fell by 1.6% in July, taking it 1.8% below the February 2020 pre-pandemic level, while the repair and maintenance sector grew by 0.6% – amounting to £27million – in the same period, according to the latest ONS figures.

The announcement led to a reply by the Federation of Master Builders, calling for government and industry to pull together to address the current shortage of skills and materials.

FMB chief executive Brian Berry said: “Disappointingly, we once again see construction output fall, putting it below pre-coronavirus levels. We know that material price increases and skills shortages are contributing to the decline, with members telling us this is their number one issue. According to a recent FMB survey 98% of builders are facing material price increases. Worryingly, new work and repair and maintenance in private housing are the main causes for this decline, which are the backbone of the workload for small builders. I’m concerned that despite the high demand for home improvements, something which could stimulate economic recovery, we see this sector on the decline. We must pull together as an industry and press government to ensure these issues are dealt with quickly.”