New house-building figures released by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) show that the number of new homes started in England was 10% higher in 2014 than in the previous year, with completions experiencing a similar boost.
In total, construction on around 137,000 new homes began in the 12 months to December, with 118,760 completed in the same period, marking an 8% increase on 2013’s figures.
However, these figures remain well below pre-recession levels, and with the main political parties approaching the 2015 General Election with house-building aims ranging between 200,000 and 300,000 new homes a year, current levels are well below those needed to halt the housing crisis.
The National Housing Federation (NHF) says the new figures suggest a shortfall of more than 120,000 on the 245,000 experts predict is needed every year to keep pace with new households forming. Since the last census in 2011, the NHF estimates the backlog of unbuilt homes totals 515,340.
David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said:
“The alarm bells sounded long ago, and yet nothing seems to have changed. For the sixth year a row, new home building is at rock bottom.
“Unless we act now and building more housing of all types, but particularly genuinely affordable housing, we are in danger of making today’s housing crisis our children’s problem”.
DCLG’s figures also showed a 10% drop in the number of new housing starts in England in the final quarter of 2014 compared to Q3. This was also 9% down on Q4 of 2013, suggesting that figures moving forward into 2015 may not improve the number of homes being built.
Gavin Smart, interim chief executive at the Chartered Institute of Housing, said:
“We need a huge increase in momentum if we are to have any hope of tackling our national housing crisis. In 2014, we built less than half the number of new homes we need to keep up with our growing population and help the millions of people who are being priced out of a decent home.
“It’s time for our politicians to show some real leadership. We want all political parties to commit to ending the housing crisis within a generation, and we think the government should take a more active role in boosting housing supply.”
Critics have also suggested that Government schemes like Help to Buy, which DCLG says has helped more than 77,000 households become homeowners, are not putting a big enough dent in the number of new homes needed.
Campbell Robb, chief executive of the housing charity Shelter, said:
“Piecemeal schemes like Help to Buy are only papering over the cracks. With the general election around the corner and housing one of voters’ top concerns, it’s time for politicians to stop just talking about the issue and finally commit to building the affordable homes we so desperately need.”
To find out more about the latest Government figures, and to view live house-building tables, click here