CONSTRUCTION volume output increased 0.9% between the third and fourth quarter of last year, buoyed by growth in infrastructure and private housing.

However, the data from the Office for National Statistics for Great Britain also showed a year-on-year dip of 9.3% when comparing output between October and December with the same period in 2011.

Across the whole of 2012 output is thought to have dipped 8.4%. In the final quarter of the year volume of all new work was up by 1.6% and repair and maintenance down by 0.3%, when compared to the third quarter. The largest increases were 5.9% in private housing and 4.2% in infrastructure, which were offset by a 4.9% dip in public non-housing work and a 4.8% dip in private housing repair and maintenance.

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Scottish Building Federation executive director Michael Levack said: "The value of publicly funded house-building plummeted by 19% last year, while other public sector new work dropped by 21%.

"Meanwhile, private sector activity remains sluggish with private sector housing down a further 5% compared to 2011 and the private commercial sector falling by 10%.

"To turn the industry around, it's increasingly clear that the Government needs to provide a stimulus to public and private sectors alike."

Howard Archer, chief UK economist at IHS Global Insight, said: "For now at least, the construction sector continues to face major headwinds, notably including limited public investment and spending, an extended weak economy, a still struggling housing sector, and problems in getting funding for large-scale projects.

"The construction sector will be fervently hoping that both the economy and the housing market see some improvement in 2013, even if only limited, and that this stimulates building work."