THE Beast from the East, rising costs and Brexit are to blame for the sharp drop in construction output, according to a national trade association.

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) responded to the April 2018 construction output figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The UK construction sector declined by 3.4% in the three months from February to April compared with the previous three months.

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “This is the biggest fall since the latter stages of the recession in August 2012. The Beast from the East has certainly played its part as it forced many construction sites to close in March. Indeed, builders were reporting that it was too cold to lay bricks.”

“The depreciation of sterling following the EU referendum has meant bricks and insulation in particular have become more expensive. We expect material prices to continue to squeeze the construction industry.”