Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s statistics put new build dwelling starts in England at 39,350 in the March quarter 2018, down by 8% compared to a year ago and 5% lower from the previous quarter at the end of 2017.
Annual new build dwelling starts totalled 157,480 in the year to March 2018, down by 3% compared with the year to March 2017.
Starts are 14% below their March quarter 2007 peak, and are 109% above the trough in the March quarter of 2009.
Seasonally adjusted completions were estimated at 38,160 in the March quarter 2018, 9% lower than in the previous quarter, and 4% below their level in the same quarter a year ago.
Completions are now 9% below their peak in the March quarter 2007 and 50% above the trough in March quarter 2013.
Seasonally adjusted completions were down by 9% in the private enterprise tenure and down by 10% in the housing association tenure.
Private enterprise new build dwelling starts in the March quarter 2018 are down by 3% from the previous quarter and 2% lower compared with the previous year. Housing association starts decreased by 13% compared with a year before.
In the year to March 2018, 160,470 new build dwellings were completed, which is 8% higher than in the year to March 2017.
Private enterprise new build dwelling completions were 9% higher than in the previous year, whilst completions by housing associations increased by 8% on an annual basis.
Alex Depledge, CEO and co-founder at Resi.co.uk said: “This week’s Letwin report has shown that housebuilders haven’t been land banking, although there is still some way to go to achieving government targets of 300,000 new homes annually by the mid-2020s.
“So it is disappointing to see a dip in figures as problems remain in the house building process, with the speed of planning approvals one of the most challenging.
“These planning delays are only adding to the widely publicised slowdown in the housing market. Simplifying planning laws will help go some way to solving this problem, as well as a greater number of architects focused on the residential space. Technology provides a solution to this as it is evolving to support demand and can now provide access to high quality design and builders that are faster, more affordable and easier.”
Kate Davies, executive director of the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association, added: “The number of new homes still falls short of the volume needed to meet the UK’s chronic housing shortage. Additionally, when looking at the data over an extended period of time – it is clear that quarterly housing starts remain well below pre-financial crash years.
“The number of housing completions is at its lowest since the first quarter 2016, despite ongoing policy pledges to mend what the government has itself described as the ‘broken housing market’.
“This lack of new homes coming onto the market organically means the new build sector must continue to be supported. As a starting point, we need clarity over the next phase of policies once the current Help to Buy scheme comes to an end in 2021.”