Brexit uncertainty stalls housing starts at 165,000 a year

Aaron Morby 5 years ago

Housing starts stagnated at 165,160 last year, despite Government efforts to pump up housing supply to achieve its flaunted building target of 300,000 homes by the mid-2020s.

After steadily growing in recent years from a trough of around 75,000 in 2009, starts have remained at the 165,000 level for two years, according to the Government’s own figures.

The plateau is being blamed on Brexit uncertainty.

And other indicators for new home registrations in the first few months of 2019 suggest starts could have peaked, ending nearly a decade of slow but steady growth.

Last quarter of 2018 recent trend figures recorded private new build starts down 9% from the previous quarter, but completions edged up by 2%. Starts by housing associations are 11% lower compared to the last quarter, but completions are up by 4%.

Total completions matched starts at 165,090, an increase of 1% compared with last year.

Annual starts and completions

The latest figures suggest that the Government will struggle to achieve higher completions unless it can spark local authority housing delivery.

Post war housing completions by tenure

More up-to-date figures for NHBC registrations suggest housing starts could well have peaked.

For the rolling quarter, between December and February, 34,199 new homes registrations fell 2%. During this period private registrations fell -13% against last year while the smaller affordable homes sector rose by just over a third, offsetting much of the sharp private sector fall.

Against the slight decrease overall in registrations, half of the 12 UK regions experienced some growth in this period, including London (+17%), the North West (+11%) and the South East (+9%).

NHBC Chief Executive Steve Wood said: “Continuing the trend from January we are seeing strong numbers in the affordable sector but an understandable drop in the private sector amid the ongoing Brexit uncertainty.

NHBC – UK Registrations by region
England – Regions Dec 18 – Feb 19 YOY change
NORTH EAST 1,040 -24%
EAST MIDLANDS 2,448 -29%
EASTERN 3,098 -25%
SOUTH WEST 3,043 2%
LONDON 4,594 17%
SOUTH EAST 6,220 9%
TOTAL ENGLAND 29,981 -2%
SCOTLAND 2,201 -1%
WALES 1,075 -12%
TOTAL UK 34,199 -1.5%

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