Total housing output rose by 0.4 per cent in the three months ending 30 November 2019, compared to the same period in 2018.
But a breakdown by sector showed this comprised 4.5 per cent growth for public housing against -0.4 per cent for private housing.
“We’ve noticed over the past year there has been quite a divergence between public and private new housing. Since the start of 2019 we’ve experienced sometimes quite strong double digit growth in the year-on-year data for public new housing,” said John Allcoat, analyst at ONS.
“Private housing has been more subdued. So there has been this split,” he said.
Growth in public sector housing output reached 12.4 per cent, compared to 0.3 per cent for the private sector, in November 2019 compared to the same month 2018. Similar differences in growth between the two segments were recorded monthly throughout 2019.
However, Allcoat cautioned that the public housing segment was comparatively smaller than the private sector.
With total housing output valued at £3.6bn for November 2019, public sector housing comprised £588,000 or 16 per cent, and private housing £3bn, or 84 per cent.
“Growth has been faster for public housing output compared to private housing output during 2019, however public housing is the smaller segment,” Allcoat said.
Month-on-month, the growth rate was 4 per cent for all housing, comprising one per cent public and 4.6 per cent private.
“That four per cent growth was against a fall of 3.5 per cent in October. The month-on-month data is more volatile,” Allcoat said.
Neil Knight, business development director at Spicerhaart Part-Exchange & Assisted Move, said while the firm had seen “a strong start to the year,” that would “take a while to feed through into more positive output figures.”
He added: “Now that we have a government with a stable majority, it would be good to see some evidence of a long-term strategy to tackle some of the problems in the housing sector. The Budget in March will be an opportunity for the government to show that it gets this.”
The ONS figures for construction output are based on a monthly survey of 8,000 firms and are adjusted for seasonal variations in activity such as at Christmas and Easter.