Dismal housing starts spur call to ‘get Britain building’

Aaron Morby 10 years ago
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The Government is falling well short in tackling the country’s burgeoning housing crisis, leading housing groups have warned.

Latest Government figures out today show annual housing starts totalled 104,970 in the 12 months to March 2012, down by 6% on the same period a year before.

The number of homes built is now running at less than half the number the Government admits is needed to meet demand.

Seasonally adjusted starts are currently 50% below peak output in December 2005. Completions are 36% below their March quarter 2007 peak.

The dismal quarterly figures show house building starts in England fell by 11% to 24,140, compared to the previous three months.

Even private housing starts fell 8% as house builders continued to focus on restoring balance sheets rather than building at higher volumes.

And public spending cuts saw housing associations starts slump 21%, despite a raft of Government measures to stimulate the market.

On the day that new figures came out, the National Housing Federation, Shelter and The Chartered Institute of Housing, warned in their second Housing Report that the government is not delivering on five out of ten key housing indicators.

These include housing supply, affordability of the private rented sector and homelessness.

The report urges the Government to make good on its promises, in particular to ‘Get Britain Building’, which as well as providing much-needed homes for thousands of families, will also deliver new jobs and economic growth.

The report also warns ministers of the urgency of meeting the nation’s housing needs as pressures, such as falling incomes and a growing and ageing population, intensify over the coming years, putting an increasing strain on Britain’s broken housing market.

David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, which represents housing associations, said: “Much more needs to be done to tackle this country’s dire housing crisis. Unless we build significantly more homes, it will only get worse.

“Building new homes will help fix our broken housing market and, with rising unemployment and living costs, spur economic growth by creating jobs and supporting small businesses. It’s a win/win for the taxpayer and for the millions stuck on waiting lists.’

Grainia Long, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing, said: “The Housing Report shows the Government’s progress in addressing our national housing crisis is limited.

‘With the economy now in double dip recession, the pressures on the housing system will only increase and the Government needs to step up its efforts in response and be more ambitious in its strategy to boost housing supply and activity in the wider housing sector.

“Addressing the housing crisis in this way would also be a much-needed and powerful stimulus to economic growth.”

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