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New data shows private housing starts are tumbling

Housing down downturn drop
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The value of housing projects getting underway across the UK fell for a fourth successive month in December, according to research from a leading industry tracker

Residential work registered just 144 on the Glenigan Index – down 14 per cent from the prior month and 13 per cent from a year earlier.

Glenigan captures data about projects starting on site over three-month periods, while excluding very large and super-small schemes.

It found that activity across the entire construction industry was at the same level in the final quarter of 2018 as it was at the end of 2017.

Glenigan economics director Allan Wilén said: ‘Increases in private industrial, commercial, social housing and civil engineering work helped steady construction starts during the fourth quarter, offsetting declines in private housing starts.’

While social housing starts were 11 per cent higher in December 2018 than the same month a year earlier, the number of private residential projects which had just begun on site dropped by a fifth over the same period.

Private residential project starts dropped by a fifth 

‘Quieter conditions in the wider housing market appear to be restraining private housing project starts, with developers focusing on building out existing sites,’ said Wilén.

‘Political and economic uncertainties are expected to continue to depress project starts in the near term, but the recent extension of Help to Buy to 2023 should help support starts as the UK economic outlook becomes clearer.’

There was brighter news from the Office for National Statistics, which declared that construction output hit £14 billion in November 2018 – its highest level since monthly records began at the start of this decade.

According to its data, new private housing work grew by 3.1 per cent in November to a seasonally adjusted figure of £3.3 billion. New public residential output increased 2 per cent to £552 million.

Alarm was sounded before Christmas when figures showed just 6,463 homes were created for social rent in 2017/18.

Last week a high-profile group of experts called for more than 3 million social homes to be built in England over the next 20 years.

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