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10% fall in English housing starts

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Housing starts in England were down 10 per cent in the second quarter of 2012, official figures have revealed

The government said a seasonally adjusted  21,540 housing projects got underway in the three months to the end of June.

This was down from 23,820 in the previous quarter – and from 28,330 in the same quarter the previous year.

Fewer than 100,000 housing starts were recorded in the 12 months to June – the first time this has happened since the year to March 2010.

 Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said in May that the government was planning a ‘massive’ state-funded housing and infrastructure drive.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said the latest figures showed the ‘widening scale’ of the problem in delivering new houses.

RICS chief economist Simon Rubinsohn said: ‘The paltry number of new starts over the last three months is barely one-third of what is generally accepted as the required number to meet the growing level of demand across the country, and suggests that government measures taken to date, including the New Homes Bonus, are having little impact.

‘There was speculation earlier this week about government measures to relax planning rules on affordable housing and it’s clear something bold is desperately needed to address the current housing crisis.’

The annual drop in starts masked major regional variations.

In both the North-east and the North-west, starts were 8 per cent higher in the year to June 2012 than in the previous year.

However, starts were down 22 per cent in London, and 18 per cent in Yorkshire and the Humber.

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