The UK's construction sector has suffered a significant setback as figures from the latest Markit/CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers' Index has shown a decline.

Officials behind the statistics revealed that the sector had fallen to a six-month low over December and dropped from 49.3 in November to 48.7 in the past month. The Markit index measures overall output throughout the sector and any figure below 50 represents a contraction within the market.

This latest publication has highlighted the steep reduction in housing activity as a reason for construction failing to bring itself out of contraction. The index has now been below 50 in four of the past five months, a fact that has caused concern within the industry.

The output has fallen at its fastest rate since June 2012, which officials at the time had put down to bad weather for the slowing of some major projects, however this has continued into the latter stages of the year.

It has previously been reported that the slowdown has been due to many major projects being completed and then there has not been any other developments available for companies to take over following the end of another.

David Noble, chief executive officer at the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply, said: "Construction in housing is particularly desperate having experienced the fastest decline in two years, with the current period of contraction now lasting seven months in a row. Commercial housing activity has also continued to fall, albeit at a slower rate, leaving civil engineering as the only sector recording growth in the industry."

Despite the current level of confidence within the construction sector being low there are still a number of major projects that are set to provide a significant boost to the industry in the coming years.

The Crossrail development in London is set to give the capital an extra transport network to use and has been granted a number funding packages to ensure that it comes to fruition.

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