Sector - Housing
Drop in new home figures hits housebuilding target
The government target of building 300,000 homes a year has taken a large hit with the release of new figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
The official figures published last week show a decrease in the number of new build homes being started or completed in England over the latest quarter (to March 2019) and only a small rise over the last 12 months.
MHCLG estimates new build dwelling starts in England at 36,630 in the latest quarter, a nine per cent decrease compared to the previous quarter and a nine per cent decrease on a year earlier; with completions estimated at 42,870, a one per cent decrease from the previous three month period.
Annual new build dwelling starts totalled 162,270 in the year to March 2019, just a one per cent increase compared with the year to March 2018. During the same period, completions totalled 169,770, a small increase of six per cent compared with last year.
Clive Docwra, Managing Director of leading construction consulting and design agency McBains, said: “The government has set a target of building 300,000 homes a year by the mid 2020s, but today’s figures show that this will remain a pipe dream unless measures are implemented to help boost the number of new build starts and completions.
“These figures bear out that construction firms are suffering from uncertainties over Brexit – investors are wary of committing to new projects while the outcome remains unclear, while skills shortages, which are already acute, will bite further unless the industry is able to recruit skilled workers from overseas.
“The high cost of materials is also impacting on the amount companies can build, and access to finance is often difficult to come by.
“Even though the annual figures show an increase in starts and completions of new homes, these are nowhere near enough to meet the demand for housing. Independent estimates suggest that more than 300,000 new homes need to be build each year until 2031, so today’s figures prove that the housing crisis is still miles away from being solved.”
Joseph Daniels, founder of modular developer Project Etopia, commented: “House building has swung into reverse yet again, and it is a further sign that the industry is not consistent enough in its delivery of new homes. A slump in the pipeline of new homes is now programmed in for later this year.
“For all the talk about the government setting ambitious housing targets, there is still a lack of urgency when it comes to walking the walk, and this has meant starts on new homes are down 9% on both the previous quarter and the same time last year.
“The rate of progress means Government targets remain only a pipedream, and the people it hurts are the ones desperate to get onto the housing ladder, who are locked out by high prices because the supply is simply not there.
“Housing is in a state of crisis, yet the response has not reflected how high a priority house-building needs to be in the UK.
“Only by turning to modern methods of construction which are much faster than traditional building can we hope to deliver the housing the country desperately needs.”
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