The Office for National Statistics’ latest report represents positive news for the construction industry, according to business consultancy Grant Thornton LLP.

“Although the total volume of construction new orders in the first quarter of 2010 rose marginally (by 1%) compared with the fourth quarter of 2009, it has significantly increased by 29% compared with the same period in 2009,” said Grant Thornton’s head of construction, Phil Westerman.

“This is a step in the right direction for the construction sector and provides some much-needed encouragement.”

He said the news showed some construction companies appeared to be slowly emerging from the doldrums.

But Mr Westerman warned of a tightening of public and private purse strings and a weakening of demand for mortgages over the second quarter.

He said there may be an increase in business failure for small to medium-sized construction business later this year.