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HBF calls time on lies, damned lies and house building statistics

by: Edward Murray
  • 19/09/2016
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HBF calls time on lies, damned lies and house building statistics
The Home Builders Federation (HBF) has criticised the use of inaccurate statistics that mean tens of thousands of new build units are excluded from official figures every year.

Politicians, practitioners and industry commentators generally rely on the ‘House Building Statistics’, released on a quarterly and annual basis by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

However, the HBF says these figures underreport new-build completions in 75% of Local Authorities with an average of 153 new homes not accounted for in each of those areas. The exclusions mean that a town the size of Stevenage is being ‘lost’ every year, or, over the course of a Parliament, a city larger than Nottingham, Coventry or Newcastle simply vanishes.

The black hole in the House Building Statistics is detailed by the HBF in its report: Ghost Towns, released today.

Stewart Baseley (pictured), executive chairman of the HBF, said: “Housebuilding has increased significantly in recent years but the continual publication and use of inaccurate statistics is painting a negative picture that is undermining the progress being made in tackling the housing shortage.”

He added: “The Government’s housing policies and the industry are delivering, and it is incredibly frustrating that official statistics are not reflecting what is happening on the ground but instead presenting an open goal for critics.”

The Ghost Towns report highlighted the following exclusions from published data:

  • At least 75% the London Boroughs of Brent, Wandsworth, Hammersmith and Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea
  • 1,280 new homes in Birmingham (two-thirds of all new build completions)
  • 920 new homes in Liverpool (63% of all new build completions)
  • 640 new homes in Salford (half of all new build completions)
  • 570 new homes in Leicester (6 out of 10 new build completions)
  • 570 new homes in Sheffield (40% of all new build completions)
  • 400 new homes in Chester West & Chester (29% of all new build completions)

To overcome the inaccuracies of the House Building Statistics, the HBF points to more reliable indicators of housing delivery, including the official Council Tax Base statistics, counting net additional homes at a later point in the year than that covered by the Net Supply statistics, and the issuance of Energy Performance Certificates for new build properties.

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