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Builders failing to respond quickly enough to housing demand – DCLG figures

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  • 20/11/2014
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Government house building statistics show starts in England fell 10% on the previous quarter with the figures still far short of the 200 - 250,000 a year estimated to be needed.

Seasonally adjusted house building starts in England were estimated at 33,000 in the September quarter.

The Department for Communities and Local Government figures show 116, 930 home completions in the last year, less than half the volume needed to address the housing shortage.

Starts are up 16% on the previous year, but Shelter chief executive Campbell Robb said: “We’ve been hearing of recent successes when it comes to house-building, but the failure to build even half of the homes we need is shown in black and white in these latest statistics.”

He welcomed the uptick in the annual figures but said successive governments have failed to build enough homes.

At the British New Homes Mortgage Senate in October, mortgage market consultant Phil Jenks said although the UK has halted the decline in the amount of land available for building, it has failed to increase the number of new properties built to the figure needed.

In only one year since 1988 has the number of new homes exceeded 150,000 (2007). Jenks said not only is the UK also seems to be out of kilter with other countries on the size of properties being built.

Figures collated by Demographia.com show the average size of a new-build property in the UK is 818 square feet. This compares with an average of 2,217 square feet in Australia and 1,894 square feet in New Zealand. Closer to home, Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium averaged between 1,475 square feet and 1,249 square feet.

The lack of support and infrastructure for self-build is another key issue for the UK, said Jenks, with just 20% of homes built this way. This contrasts with 80% in Austria while Belgium, Italy, Sweden Norway, Germany and France are all above 60%.

Labour has outlined plans for a Help to Build scheme to underwrite bank loans for small house builders to help them grow their businesses and increase competition in the housing sector.

Writing for the New Statesman, the shadow ministers said: “Figures show that 25 years ago small builders were building two thirds of new homes. Now they’re not even building a third of new homes. Over the same period, the number of firms building between one and 100 units has fallen from over 12,000 to fewer than 3,000.”

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