“England is building 21 per cent fewer homes than during a peak in 2007 as the government struggles to reach its target of 300,000 homes a year.
Figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government showed that housebuilders started work on 38,730 homes in England on a seasonally adjusted basis in the three months to the end of June. This is down from 48,920 in the first three months of 2007. However, it was 126 per cent higher than a low of 17,120 in the first quarter of 2009, in the depth of the financial crisis.
Conversions — for example, turning an office block into flats — also count toward the 300,000 target. When these are included, the figures show that there were 217,350 “additional dwellings” in England in 2016-17, a ten-year high. However, the number of housing starts for new homes is still declining, suggesting that a higher total figure may not be achieved this year. Compared with the previous quarter, the number of housing starts fell by 3.7 per cent from 40,200 in the three months to March and by 4.1 per cent from a year earlier.
Hansen Lu, of Capital Economics, said that demand was weakening. Analysts believe that buyers are starting to hold back because of uncertainty about what Brexit will do to the economy.
“With starts having fallen in four of the last five quarters, the big picture is that housing construction is on a gentle, downward trajectory,” he added. “We expect builders to slow construction further over the rest of 2018, rather than run the risk of building homes they cannot sell.”
The government figures were contested by property analysts and housebuilding groups, and have been discredited by the UK Statistics Authority, because they are compiled through local planning departments. These have been seen to be less reliable in recent years because the planners do not always receive information from all builders in their area.”
Source: Times, paywall