The figure is a nine per cent decline on both a quarterly basis and compared to the same point last year. However, annual new build starts totaled 162,270, a slight increase of one per cent on the previous 12 months.
Completions also fell in the quarter to reach 42,870. While this was down by one per cent on the previous quarter, it was up by 14 per cent on the same period in 2018.
Annual completions were also up, at a total of 169,770, an increase of six per cent on the previous year.
The MHCLG noted that there was a “mixed” geographic spread of local authorities with significant changes in the number of new build starts. Of the 326 authorities covered, starts increased in 171.
On completions, increases were seen in 189 out of 326 authorities.
Targets in jeopardy
The government has stated it wants to see 300,000 new homes built each year by the mid-2020s, but a report last week from the parliamentary Public Affairs Committee warned that this target is in “jeopardy”.
It criticised the department for not having a “detailed implementation plan” for precisely how it wants to increase the number of new homes built, and cautioned there are “inherent problems” in the planning system.
Joseph Daniels, founder of modular housing developer Project Etopia, warned that house building “has swung into reverse yet again” with the industry “not consistent enough” in the delivery of new homes.
“For all the talk about the government setting ambitious housing targets, there is still a lack of urgency when it comes to walking the walk,” he continued.
“The rate of progress means government targets remain only a pipedream, and the people it hurts are the ones desperate to get onto the housing ladder, who are locked out by high prices because the supply is simply not there.”