Number of new-build homes started at lowest quarterly level since 2016

The number of new homes started in England fell to the lowest quarterly levels seen in three years between January and March, Government house building figures show.

An estimated 36,630 new-build homes were started during the quarter, a 9% decrease both when compared with the previous three months and a year earlier, according to figures published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

It was the lowest quarterly total since 35,900 starts were recorded in the first quarter of 2016.

Meanwhile, the number of new-build homes being completed increased by 14% compared with a year earlier, with an estimated 42,870 completions.

The completions total was 1% lower than the previous quarter.

In the year to March, some 162,270 new-build homes were started, a 1% increase compared with the year to March 2018.

And 169,770 new-build homes were completed in the year to March, a 6% year-on-year increase.

The number of new house builds being started was strongly affected by the economic downturn from the start of 2008, when there was a period of rapid decline to a trough in the March quarter of 2009.

From 2009, starts began to recover and more recently, despite fluctuations, starts and completions have started to grow again gradually, the report said.

House building starts are now 25% below their March quarter 2007 peak, but 114% higher than a trough seen in the March quarter of 2009.

Various announcements to boost the housing sector have been made in recent years, including plans confirmed last week to abolish the selling of new houses as leasehold properties, other than in exceptional circumstances, to protect new home buyers from unscrupulous charges.

The Government has said the measures demonstrate its commitment to ensure decent and fair housing, as it strives to deliver 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s.