11-year high in housebuilding figures falls way short of what’s needed to tackle housing crisis

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BRITAIN is “moving in the right direction” said housing secretary Robert Jenrick MP as the latest figures revealed an 11-year high in the completion of new homes, but delivery remains way below meeting demand.

The latest official figures released by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) show that 173,660 new homes were built during the year ending June 2019. This marks an 8% increase on the previous year.

However, it remains far below the level of housing delivery industry experts deem necessary if the country is to have any realistic hope of resolving the housing crisis. The National Housing Federation, for instance, cites a need for 340,000 new homes every year – including 124,000 social and “affordable” homes – to meet demand.

According to the figures:

  • On a quarterly basis, newbuild starts in England were estimated at 37,220 (seasonally adjusted) in the latest quarter. This is a 2% decrease compared to the previous three months and an 8% decrease on a year earlier
  • Quarterly completions were estimated at 45,190 (seasonally adjusted); a 4% increase from the previous quarter and 11% higher than a year ago
  • Annual newbuild starts totalled 160,640 in the year to June 2019, a 1% decrease compared with the year to June 2018. During the same period, completions totalled 173,660 an increase of 8% compared with last year.
  • Private sector newbuild starts (seasonally adjusted) in the June quarter 2019 are down by 2% from the previous quarter, and completions are up by 2%
  • Starts by housing associations are 4% lower compared to the last quarter, but completions are up by 20%

The figures were welcomed by the housing secretary, Robert Jenrick MP. “As housing secretary, it’s my mission to get Britain building,” he said. “The data is hugely welcome, with the number of new homes built reaching an 11-year high. We are moving in the right direction, but there is still much more to do if we are going to deliver the numbers needed by communities up and down the country.

“I’m determined to deliver homes that are high-quality, well designed and good for the planet. Faster and simpler planning regulations will help us reach that goal, which is why I have announced measures to accelerate planning decisions for homes and reduce the use of unnecessary conditions by up to a third, freeing up developers so they can get on and build in a locally appropriate way.”

Housing delivery could be higher, if councils were able to build more, said the Local Government Association (LGA).

“Councils want to do more to help build the homes our communities desperately need,” said Councillor David Renard, the LGA’s housing spokesperson.

“The last time the country built more than 300,000 homes a year was 1977/78, when councils built 44% of them. Latest figures show councils built just over 2,300 homes last year – the highest level since 1992 – but need the upcoming Queen’s Speech to hand them powers and funding if they are to play a leading role in solving our housing shortage.

“This must include devolving Right to Buy so that councils retain 100% of their receipts to reinvest in building new homes accompanied with the right infrastructure, and can set discounts locally.”



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