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Bold Government action needed as housing starts drop below 100,000

22/02/2013
Bold Government action needed as housing starts drop below 100,000
The house building industry is calling on the Chancellor for decisive action to stimulate the house building sector in the wake of dismal figures for housing starts.

Latest official Government figures reveal housing starts in England fell 11% last year to 98,280.

The figures fall woefully short of the 230,000 starts needed to meet demand and represent half the peak in the year to March 2006.

Mike Leonard, CEO of the Modern Masonry Alliance said: “These numbers confirm that the Government must do more if we are to see a housing led economic recovery creating jobs and growth.
 
“I expect the overall number of houses built in 2013 to be around 10% better than 2012.

“The numbers, however, hide a highly dysfunctional market dominated by the top seven house builders and heavily reliant on the South East,” warned Leonard.

“Schemes such as New Buy, while very welcome, have not helped the SME builders who are all but missing from the market due to lack of bank lending.

He added: “We must add to this the catastrophic drop in social housing at a time when the need is increasing.
 
“Our economy is on the verge of a triple dip recession, we have a million under 25’s unemployed and a mounting housing crisis.

“We have long called for the Government to invest in the construction of 25,000 additional public rented homes in 2013 and we urge the Chancellor to take this bold decision and find the funding required.

“Our industry stands ready to step up and deliver high quality homes using local materials and local labour.”

The new Government figures reveal private starts were down 8% compared with the previous year while housing association starts slumped 23% compared with a year before.

The latest returns for the final quarter of the year indicate a small improvement in supply.

But with seasonally adjusted start numbers up just 1% in Q4 on the previous quarter the long-awaited recovery fall short of the scale of recovery needed from historically low house building levels.

Total completions for the year were slightly better, up 1% at 115,620 in the 12 months to December 2012.

The current level of completions is 35% below the peak level of 2007.

The geographic spread of increases and decreases is very mixed.

Some of the greatest increases in starts levels were in districts in London, Cambridge, Hull, areas of Warwickshire and Devon, districts across the Peak District, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire.

Areas with some of the largest falls in rates of house building starts include Lincolnshire, Bedfordshire, Suffolk, Essex, Hertfordshire and Kent.