According to official figures, the completion of new homes reached its highest level in six years in the year to March 2015, but at 125,110, it is still less than half of what is required to begin addressing the housing crisis.
Nonetheless, housing and planning minister Brandon Lewis welcomed the figures as a confirmation of previous policies and vowed to keep the momentum going as the new government takes office.
“Housebuilding is central to our strategy for ensuring that the recovery reaches all parts of our country.” “We’re rebuilding a devastated industry and getting the country back on its feet,” Lewis said. “Today’s figures show that these efforts are bearing fruit, with housing starts more than doubling since 2009 and completions at their highest level in nearly six years.” It is critical that we maintain this momentum, getting workers back on construction sites and homes built, giving more people the opportunity to own their own home.”
The following are some of the highlights of the latest figures released today by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG):
Seasonally adjusted house building starts in England are expected to total 40,300 in the March quarter of 2015, representing a 31% increase over the previous quarter. The seasonally adjusted level of starts in the March quarter of 2015 increased by 11% over the same quarter the previous year.
Seasonally adjusted completions are expected to be 34,040 in the March quarter of 2015, a 10% increase over the previous quarter. Seasonally adjusted completions increased by 21% in the March quarter of 2015 compared to the same quarter the previous year.
Housing starts by private enterprises were 30% higher (seasonally adjusted) in the March quarter of 2015 than the previous quarter, while starts by housing associations were 36% higher.
Seasonally adjusted private enterprise completions increased by 7% from the previous quarter, while housing association completions increased by 24%.
Seasonally adjusted starts are now 136 percent higher than the March quarter 2009 trough but 18 percent lower than the March quarter 2007 peak. Completions are 30% lower than in the March quarter of 2007.
In the year to March 2015, annual housing starts totaled 140,500, a 5% increase over the previous year. Annual housing completions in England totaled 125,110 in the year to March 2015, an increase of 11% over the previous year.
The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) agreed with the housing minister on the importance of maintaining momentum, but also urged a faster pace of new home construction.
“It’s encouraging to see an increase in the number of houses started and completed from January to March this year compared to the same period last year,” said Gavin Smart, deputy chief executive of the CIH.
“We need to not only maintain, but also accelerate, that momentum.” We built 125,110 new homes in the year to March, which is just over half of what we need to keep up with our growing population and help the millions of people who are priced out of a decent home.
“Over the last 30 years, our national housing policy has failed to address the underlying cause of the problem – a lack of supply.” We can solve the housing crisis within a generation, but only with a coordinated, long-term strategy that prioritises new home construction and looks beyond the next five years. CIH is eager to collaborate with the new government to implement such a strategy, and we urge them to do so within a year of taking office.”
According to the National Housing Federation (NHF), the latest figure for completed homes is 119,890 short of what is required to keep up with demand. Following the release of these new figures, it has renewed its call for the government to invest in the construction of new homes, including “much needed” affordable homes for low rent and shared ownership.
“We have a massive housing crisis, and at the heart of it is the fact that not nearly enough homes have been built in a generation or more,” said Henry Gregg, the NHF’s assistant director of campaigns and communication.
“We urgently need to take action to build more housing of all types.” Families and young people across the country are pleading for truly affordable long-term rental and shared ownership homes to help them get on the housing ladder.
“Housing associations are constructing, but they need a bold government to play a role in paving the way for new homes.” Our new government has pledged to end the housing crisis within a generation; now it must free up land and invest appropriately to make that happen.”
“Today’s housebuilding figures make for very encouraging reading,” said Andy Frankish, new build director at Mortgage Advice Bureau (MAB). The first quarter of 2015 saw a significant increase in housing starts when compared to both the fourth quarter of 2014 and this time last year, which is good news for both the industry and consumers. The fact that there are now more starts than at any point since the beginning of the recession suggests that the UK housebuilding industry is entering a period of sustained growth.
“It is now up to the new administration to ensure that momentum is maintained: the country’s housing crisis must be addressed with long-term solutions that outlast a five-year administration.” Looking for new solutions must be a part of this.”