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Surge in housing starts

Words: Laura Edgar
Construction / iStock_000004570153

Housing minster Brandon Lewis has welcomed figures suggesting that the number of homes being built across England has increased. But the Home Builders Federation (HBF) says the “government must now deliver manifesto pledges to ensure build rates are maintained”.

House Building: March Quarter 2015, England (pdf) states that seasonally adjusted house building starts in England are estimated at 40,300 in the March quarter 2015, an increase of 31 per cent from 30,700 in the December quarter 2014.

This figure, says the government, is also almost double the number of starts for the same period in 2009, and housing completions are at “their highest levels for nearly six years”.

Lewis said: “House building is at the heart of our plan to ensure the recovery reaches all parts of our country. We’re turning around an industry that was devastated and getting the country building again.

“The figures show these efforts are reaping results, with house building starts having more than doubled since 2009, and completions at their highest for nearly six years.

“It is vital we maintain this momentum, getting workers back on sites and homes built - giving more people the chance to own their own home.”

John Stewart, director of economic affairs at HBF, said that while these figures are a sign that the house building industry is responding to “more positive market conditions” as well as the the Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme, “significant constraints remain, and if the government is to deliver on its manifesto commitment to further increase build rates we now need to see more action.”

Stewart said that continuing the Help to Buy scheme until 2020 is essential if house building rates are to be maintained, as are “policies to increase the speed at which land for housing comes forward through the planning system”.

“Swift action by the new government will allow the industry to maintain momentum and provide decent homes for thousands more people. Increasing house building will also create tens of thousands of jobs and lead to infrastructure and amenity improvements in every part of the country,” Stewart concluded.