The completion of new homes reached its highest level for six years in the 12 months to March 2015, according to official figures, but at 125,110 it remains around half that needed to begin tackling the housing crisis.
Nonetheless, housing and planning minister Brandon Lewis greeted the figures as an endorsement of previous policies, and vowed to maintain a momentum in delivery as the new government gets rolling.
“Housebuilding is at the heart of our plan to ensure the recovery reaches all parts of our country. We’re turning around an industry that was devastated and getting the country building again,” said Lewis. “Today’s figures show these efforts are reaping results, with housebuilding starts having more than doubled since 2009, and completions at their highest for nearly six years. It is vital we maintain this momentum, getting workers back on sites and homes built – giving more people the chance to own their own home.”
Highlights of the latest figures released today the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) include:
Seasonally adjusted house building starts in England are estimated at 40,300 in the March quarter 2015, a 31% increase compared to the previous quarter. The seasonally adjusted level of starts in the March quarter 2015 increased by 11% on the same quarter a year earlier
Seasonally adjusted completions are estimated at 34,040 in the March quarter 2015, 10% higher than the previous quarter. The seasonally adjusted level of completions in the March quarter 2015 increased by 21% on the same quarter a year earlier
Private enterprise housing starts (seasonally adjusted) were 30% higher in the March quarter 2015 than the previous quarter, whilst starts by housing associations were 36% higher
Seasonally adjusted private enterprise completions increased by 7% and housing association completions increased by 24% from the previous quarter
Seasonally adjusted starts are now 136% above the trough in the March quarter 2009 but 18% below the March quarter 2007 peak. Completions are 30% below their March quarter 2007 peak
Annual housing starts totalled 140,500 in the 12 months to March 2015, up by 5% compared with the year before. Annual housing completions in England totalled 125,110 in the 12 months to March 2015, an increase of 11% compared with the previous 12 months
The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) shared the housing minister’s view about maintaining momentum, but also urged an accelerated pace of delivery of new homes.
“It’s encouraging to see an increase in the number of houses started and completed during January to March compared with the same period last year,” said Gavin Smart, the CIH’s deputy chief executive.
“We not only need to keep that momentum up, we need to accelerate it. In the year to March, we built 125,110 new homes – that’s just over half the number we need to keep up with our growing population and help the millions of people who are being priced out of a decent home.
“Over the past 30 years, our national housing policy has failed to truly address the root of the problem – lack of supply. We can solve this housing crisis within a generation, but only with a joined-up, long-term strategy that focuses on getting new homes built and looks far beyond the next five years. CIH is ready to work with the new government to put that kind of strategy into place, and we’re calling on them to publish it within a year of taking office.”
The National Housing Federation (NHF) pointed out that the latest figure for completed homes is 119,890 short of what is needed to keep up with demand. On the back of these latest figures, it has reiterated its call for the Government to invest to invest in building new homes, including “much needed” affordable homes for low rent and shared ownership.
“We have a far-reaching housing crisis and at its heart is the reality that not nearly enough homes have been built for a generation or more,” said Henry Gregg, the NHF’s assistant director of campaigns and communication.
“We need urgent action to get more housing of all types built. Families and young people across the country are crying out for genuinely affordable homes they can rent long term and shared ownership homes to help them on the housing ladder.
“Housing associations are building, but they need a bold government to play its part too and lead the way for new homes. Our new Government has committed to end the housing crisis within a generation, now it must free up land and provide proper investment to make that happen.”
Andy Frankish, new build director at Mortgage Advice Bureau (MAB) said: “Today’s housebuilding figures make for very encouraging reading. The first quarter of 2015 has seen a significant increase in housing starts compared to both Q4 2014 and this time last year, which is good news for the industry and consumers alike. The fact that there are now more starts than at any point since the start of the recession hopefully shows this is the beginning of a sustained period of growth for UK housebuilding.
“It is now up to the new government to ensure that momentum is carried forward: the country’s housing crisis must be addressed with long-term solutions that outlive a five year government. Part of this must include looking at new solutions.”