Housing association newbuild starts dropped 23% in second quarter 2015

Housing minister Brandon Lewis has welcomed the latest official housebuilding statistics as proof the Government’s policies are working, despite the figures revealing a fall in the number of starts.

The statistical release for the June quarter of 2015 revealed that while completions were up, starts had fallen – with the number of new homes started on site by housing associations having dropped 23% on the previous quarter.

According to the seasonally adjusted figures released by the Department of Communities and Local Government, an estimated 35,640 homes were completed in the June quarter of 2015, 4% higher than the previous quarter, and a 22% increase on the same quarter last year.

Annual housing completions in England, meanwhile, totalled 131,060 in the 12 months to June, an increase of 15% compared with the previous 12 months. Seasonally adjusted completions by private enterprises increased 4% while housing association completions increase 6% over the previous quarter.

Starts, however, are down. In England, an estimated 33,280 new homes were started on site in the June quarter of 2015, according to the seasonally adjusted figures. This is down 14% on the previous quarter, and a 6% decrease on the same quarter a year earlier.

Annual housebuilding starts came to 136,320 for the 12 months to June 2015, down 1% compared with a year earlier.

Starts in the private sector were 12% lower in the June quarter than they were in the previous quarter, while housing association starts had dropped by 23%.

Despite the fall in starts, housing minister Brandon Lewis welcomed the figures on new completions as “proof” that the Government is “keeping the country building” and “delivering the homes that hard working people need”.

“Our One Nation government has got the country building again with [the] figures showing that 131,060 extra homes have been built in the past year. This has provided a real boost to the UK’s construction industry and is delivering the homes that hard-working people rightly deserve,” said Lewis.

“However, we know there is more to do. That is why we have outlined plans to deliver 275,000 affordable homes by the end of this Parliament – the fastest rate of building for 20 years. We’re also determined to support those who aspire to own their own home, which is why we’re making up to £10 million available to bring forward brownfield sites to build new Starter Homes which will be available to young first-time buyers at a 20% discount.”

Industry chiefs welcomed the latest housebuilding results, but they were nevertheless rather less satisfied in their tone than the minister, expressing the view that the levels of building just aren’t good enough to tackle the housing crisis.

Gavin Smart, deputy chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing said: “We have failed to build the number of homes we need for decades – the result is a housing crisis in which millions of people are struggling to access a decent home at a price they can afford. So while it’s encouraging to see a 15% increase in the number of homes built in the year to June, the fact remains that during those 12 months we only managed to build just over half the number of homes we need to keep up with our growing population.

“The government has taken steps to boost house building but [these] figures show we are still a long way short of where we need to be. Ministers need to look again at what more they can do, such as freeing up local authorities to build, boosting shared ownership and releasing public land for housing. Of course, it is not all down to state intervention. If we are going to solve our housing crisis we need to see the Government working together with a coalition of all parts of the industry, including social landlords and private developers – but we need the political will to bring all the players together and make that happen.”

Henry Gregg, assistant director of campaigns at the National Housing Federation said: “Britain is in the grips of a housing crisis, and at the centre of this huge national issue is the fact that we’ve failed to build enough homes for a generation or more.

“Today’s figures are encouraging as they show housebuilding is at its highest level since 2008. However, we need to continue to increase our efforts as a nation to build the homes that are desperately needed. Last year alone we built less than half of the homes needed, pushing house prices and home ownership further out of reach for millions of families and young people.

“Housing associations are building across the country and are valuable potential partners for government to get even more homes built. We want to work together to end the housing crisis and provide quality affordable homes to everyone who needs them.”

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