What a difference a year makes.

Twelve months ago, construction companies were unsure what 2013 had in store for them but now firms are much more confident about the year ahead. The latest Markit/CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers' Index has indicated that confidence is improving with commercial work now hitting heights not seen since April 2007, prior to the economic downturn in the UK.

Respondents to the Markit/CIPS Index were much more positive about the year ahead with 57 per cent of firms expecting the sector to grow during 2014, this was set against ten per cent which were predicting a decline. December was also found to be the eighth consecutive month of expansion with the index reaching 62.1 during the month, any figure above 50 represents growth in the industry.

Tim Moore, senior economist at Markit, said: "Stronger growth expectations and fuller order books are continuing to fuel job creation in the construction sector. Higher employment numbers have now been reported for seven successive months, and these efforts to meet a sudden turnaround in UK construction demand should help keep staffing levels moving strongly upwards into 2014.”

There had been signs in the latter stages of 2013 that the next 12 months could be positive for the construction sector. The Markit/CIPS Index stood at 62.6 for November, up from the 59.4 recorded in October. This was complemented with a report from the Office for National Statistics which noted that output had grown by 2.2 per cent in October, compared to September. It was also a 5.3 per cent improvement on the same figure a year before.

One of the driving forces behind the construction sector's success story was the resilience of the UK's housing market. Help to Buy was highlighted as being a key reason to its strong performance with more and more homeowners able to get their foot on the property ladder.

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