2 March 2012 | By Alex Wellman, Inside housing

The number of new public housing construction orders was at its lowest point for a decade in the last quarter of 2011.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that in the fourth quarter of 2011, construction orders for public housing stood at just 413. The report says it was the lowest level since the second quarter of 2000.

The number is 26 per cent down on the previous month (563) and more than half down on the figure from the same time the year before (964).

Overall, in 2011 there were 2,388 new orders for public housing – down from 3,329 in 2010 and 3,030 in 2009.

Private housing was in better health with new construction orders up to 2,435 in the fourth quarter of 2011 from 2,245 the previous quarter. It was also up overall with 9,132 orders in 2011 as opposed to 8,602 in 2010.

Julia Evans, chief executive of the National Federation of Builders, said: ‘The government took too long to recognise the advantages of investing in housing and construction in order to benefit the economy as a whole.

We can only hope that the housing minister’s pledge to put housing centre stage in Britain’s economic recovery plans will yield results before the industry adds significantly to the 2,700 construction firms that went out of business during 2011.’