Newly-released housebuilding statistics for England show a 12 per cent increase in completions in the year to April - but the figures mask a lack of growth in public-sector housing
Provisional data from the Department for Communities and Local Government said 139,690 new homes were completed in the 2015-16 financial year, compared with 124,490 in 2014-15.
However, while the number of homes built for private sale rose from 96,120 to 111,420, or 16 per cent, the total completed for housing associations dropped from 27,020 in 2014-15 to 26,370 last year.
Completions of local-authority commissioned housing increased from 1,360 units in 2014-15 to 1,890 units, a rise of 39 per cent, however the combined figures for local authority and housing association completions still represented a contraction on the previous years’ figures.
While private-sector housing starts marked their fourth year of improvement, the figures reveal the continuation of a downward trend for housing associaiton and council-house starts that began in 2013-14.
Housing starts from 2007 to 2016
Housing and planning minister Brandon Lewis said the overall figures showed that completions were at a seven-year high.
’We’ve got the country building again and are seeing our housebuilding efforts paying-off with this considerable increase in the number of homes built in just one year,’ he said.
’This is real progress but there is more to do. That’s why we are going further and increasing our investment in housebuilding to ensure many more hard-working people can benefit.’
There is a consensus among housing experts that the nation needs a minimum of 200,000 new homes a year to keep pace with demand. The last time housebuilding was at that level was in 1988-89. In 2007-8 - the year that the global economic crisis unfolded - 170,610 new homes were completed in England.
Labour’s shadow housing minister, John Healey, said the quarterly element of the dataset showed housebuilding starts 3 per cent lower in the first quarter of 2016 than in the last quarter of 2015, and 9 per cent lower than for the same period a year earlier.
’After six years of failure, it’s clear this government has no long-term plan for housing,’ he said.
’Ministers aren’t just failing on building the number of homes we need – they’re failing on providing the right types of homes too.
’Their extreme and short-sighted housing plans are failing young people and families on ordinary incomes by choking off thousands of genuinely affordable homes to rent and buy at a time when they’ve never been needed more.’