Call to act over 'housing crisis'


The Government is being urged to do more to tackle the "housing crisis" after figures showed that the number of new builds started in England slipped to fewer than 100,000 during 2012.

Some 98,280 houses were started last year, marking an 11% fall compared with 2011, statistics from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) showed.
In the last three months of the year, there were 26,830 housing builds started in England, which was a small 1% uplift on the previous quarter.

Within this quarterly figure, the number of private enterprise house building starts increased by 2% on the previous quarter - but the number of builds started by housing associations took a 10% slide.

The number of houses which were completed in England during 2012 increased by 1% year-on-year to reach 115,620.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of housing charity Shelter, said: "The Government has to use next month's Budget to unlock the finance to deliver more genuinely affordable family homes. Unless action is taken now, it's hard to see our housing crisis improving any time soon."

House building starts hit a trough in spring 2009 as the full effects of the financial crisis struck, and they are still around 45% below the peak levels recorded in early 2007.

The Government launched a NewBuy scheme last spring to give people a helping hand onto the property ladder at the same time as giving developers a boost. More than 3,000 reservations have been made under the scheme, which is guaranteed by the Government and allows people to buy a new build home with a 5% deposit.

Home builders recently reported that interest in the scheme picked up at the start of this year, which they said was partly due to improvements to the mortgage market.

Simon Rubinsohn, chief economist at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), predicted that house building starts are likely to climb back to around 115,000 this year. But he said that this is still "way short of need" and is likely to mean that rents remain high due to the strong demand in the sector. for Communities and Local Government)

© 2013 Press Association
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