Britain’s builders enjoyed their best month since Covid-19 struck during September after a surge in projects delayed by the pandemic.
Pent-up demand and the tailwind of the Chancellor’s stamp duty holiday drove the fastest rise in new business since before the lockdown, the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply said.
House builders saw a “sharp” rise in activity for the fourth month running as construction activity “took off”, according to CIPS director Duncan Brock.
September's activity index, where any figure above 50 signals growth, hit 56.8, beating the 54.6 recorded for August.
The bounceback is faster than those registered by services and manufacturing sectors and comes after Bank of England chief economist Andy Haldane warned against talking down the recovery with “Chicken Licken economics”.
Boris Johnson has also promised a "green industrial revolution" over the next decade that could represent a major fillip to the construction sector.
The figures add weight to expectations of a record growth spurt between July and September after a 19.8pc slump in lockdown.
Howard Archer, chief economist at the EY Item Club, said the economy could have surged as much as 17pc over the summer but warned: “The fourth quarter will be more challenging for the UK economy due to a likely marked rise in unemployment, waning pent-up demand and increased restrictions on activity due to rising Covid cases.”
A cliff-edge break with the European Union is also on the horizon for businesses as the transition period finishes on December 31 with no trade deal yet agreed.
While optimism among construction firms is also at a seven-month high, they are still shedding staff, albeit at a slower pace.
Mr Brock said: “Government support schemes are winding down, so the bigger worry remains levels of job creation. With another drop in employment numbers, vacancies were sparse and further redundancy schemes could be on the cards once this pent-up demand for work is satisfied.
More signs of the sector’s rebound came as the International Monetary Fund warned that the global economy faces a “difficult climb that will be long, uneven and uncertain”.
Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the lender of last resort, urged governments to channel the post-Second World War generation who “forged a better world in the worst possible moment”.
Taking inspiration from the establishment of the NHS and Bretton Woods system in the 1940s, Ms Georgieva said policymakers need to avoid a Tale of Two Cities scenario as inequalities worsen during the pandemic.
“This crisis has also made inequality even worse because of its disproportionate impact on low-skilled workers, women, and young people,” she said.
Ms Georgieva revealed the IMF will make a “small” upgrade to its 2020 forecasts after a marginally better-than-feared second and third quarters.