The number of newly built homes in the UK has increased 6% in the past year, according to the latest house building data from the government.
Some 139,030 new homes were completed in the year to June and have continued to build gradually over the last two years, according to the figures from the Department of Local Government and Communities.
The data also shows that more than 144,280 homes were started in the year to June 2016 but the figures are still below the current target of 220,000 that are needed to meet the housing crisis.
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid admitted that more needs to be done. ‘We’ve got the country building again with more new homes started and built than this time last year.
This is real progress but there is much more to do. That’s why we are going further and increasing our investment in house building to ensure many more people can benefit,’ he explained.
A breakdown of the figures show strong regional growth in London, Swindon and Wakefield, which are all experiencing high levels of completions. Delivery in London saw 24% more homes being built in the year to June 2016 than the previous year with local authorities in Greenwich and Waltham Forest seeing completions increase by 126% and 103% respectively over the same period while in Swindon and Wakefield completions were up 104% and 41% respectively.
Figures published last year show that the total number of new homes across the country rose by 25% in 2014 to 2015, when taking in to account all homes, including new builds, houses that have been converted into flats and buildings whose use has been changed to residential.
Javid pointed out that the government is committed to building the homes the country needs and investing £8bn to build 400,000 more affordable homes to rent and buy.
He also pointed out that the new Housing and Planning Act will help deliver the ambition to build a million more homes by ensuring councils continue to play a key role in delivery, and through new measures that will allow them to deliver more homes more swiftly.
On a quarterly basis, house building starts in England were estimated at 36,400 in the latest quarter, a 2% increase compared to the previous three months and 6% up on a year earlier while completions were estimated at 34,920, some 7% higher than the previous quarter but 2% lower than a year ago.
Annual housing starts totalled 144,280 in the year to June 2016, up by 2% compared with the year to June 2015. During the same period, completions totalled 139,030, an increase of 6% compared with last year.
Private enterprise housing starts were 4% higher in the June quarter 2016 than the previous quarter whereas completions were 3% higher. Starts by housing associations were 6% lower compared to the last quarter and completions 29% higher.
All starts are now 112% above the trough in the March quarter of 2009 but 26% below the peak in the March quarter of 2007. All completions are 39% above the trough in the March quarter of 2013 and 28% below their peak in the March quarter of 2007
Rod Lockhart, managing director at online mortgage lender LendInvest, believes that such a modest pace of improvement is a concern. “At the current rate, we will fall well short of the government’s target of one million new homes by 2020, and fail to make inroads into the sharp housing shortage in the UK,’ he said.
‘The onus is on the government to jumpstart the house building industry. The large house builders are not keen to do more, so efforts must be focused on small and medium sized builders.
He added that the announced £5bn Home Building Fund is a good start, but finance is not the only area holding these builders back: “More has to be done to reduce the complexities of the planning system and open up access to land to build on”