74% increase in new housing stock not enough

November 16, 2017 / Isla MacFarlane
74% increase in new housing stock not enough

Despite housing stock increasing 74% over the last four years, housebuilding has yet to return to its pre-financial crisis levels prompting Theresa May to take matters into her own hands ahead of next week’s Budget.

Government figures released today show that 217,350 homes were added to the housing stock in England in the last financial year.

The house building industry has now delivered a 74% increase in supply in the past four years; and with the number of planning permissions granted, a strong indicator of future build levels, at the highest rate on record, increases look set to continue.

The new figures show:

  • Total housing supply April 16 – March 17 was 227,170 up 14%;
  • Once demolitions are taken off there were 217,350 net additions to the housing stock, up 15% on last year and up 74% in four years;
  • 183,570 new build homes were built, up 12% on last year and up 55% in past four years;
  • Due to planning reform housebuilders increased the number of conversions and changes of use completed to 17,751.

Today’s figures mean that by the end of March 2017, there were 577,690 more homes in England than there were three years ago.

The industry is now calling on the government to use next week’s Budget to deliver further improvements to the policy environment to allow the industry to sustain this fastest rate of growth on record.

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the Home Builders Federation said, “It is no coincidence that since reform of the planning system in 2012 and the introduction of the phenomenally successful Help to Buy scheme in 2013, housing supply has increased by a massive 74%.

“As well as delivering much needed homes the industry is also creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs boosting local economies across the country.

“The challenge now is to expand the number of housing suppliers delivering new homes. Government needs to help create the conditions for more specialist developers and smaller firms to invest and grow their output while continuing with the positive environment that has seen larger developers drive increases in supply. Moving forward, the housebuilding industry will play a key role in building a new Britain and driving our post-Brexit economy.”

As well as providing desperately needed new homes, the new figures also reveal the economic boost the industry is giving UKPLC.  Every home built supports an estimated 4.3 jobs, and provides investment in infrastructure and social amenities – benefitting local economies across the country.

Today, Prime Minister Theresa May and Communities Secretary Sajid Javid gave speeches which confirmed the government will be taking action to stoke a major housebuilding programme.

Speaking ahead of a visit to a housing development in Barnet, North London, Theresa May said, “The number of new homes being delivered each year has been increasing since 2010, but there is more we can do.

“That is why I have made it my mission to build the homes the country needs and take personal charge of the government’s response. Today I am seeing the work now underway to put this right and, in coming weeks and months, my government will be going further to ensure that we build more homes, more quickly.”

In a speech on housing at the Temple Meads Quarter in Bristol, Javid reinforced the government’s approach to back housing of all tenures, including more social housing.

“The generation crying out for help with housing is not over-entitled,” the Communities Secretary said. “They don’t want the world handed to them on a plate. They want simple fairness, moral justice, the opportunity to play by the same rules enjoyed by those who came before them.

“Without affordable, secure, safe housing we risk creating a rootless generation, drifting from one short-term tenancy to the next, never staying long enough to play a role in their community.

“There are many, many faults in our housing market, dating back many, many years. If you only fix one you’ll make some progress, but not enough. This is a big problem and we have to think big.”

He announced that the government is taking housing associations’ debt off the balance sheet, ensuring housing associations have a stable investment environment to build more homes.

Bjorn Howard, group CEO of Aster Group, commented, “The housing whitepaper, the Conservative Party Conference, and now today’s speeches, have all contained a lot of positive messaging; but now is the time to act on the proposals that have been set out.

“We hope to see the Chancellor take serious strides and provide solid detail on how the government intends to honour its commitments and make housing fairer and more accessible to those currently priced out of the market.

“We believe increased supply along with more choice, which can be provided by greater availability of shared ownership alongside the traditional options of renting and outright home-ownership, will make a significant difference.”

John Healey MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Housing, pointed out that while today’s figures are positive, the scale of the crisis prohibits any cause for celebration. “These figures confirm that new housebuilding still hasn’t returned to the level it was before the global financial crisis, a decade on,” he said. “Any increase in new housing is welcome but in any other area of public policy this record of failure would be cause for resignation, not celebration.

“Meanwhile genuinely affordable housebuilding has fallen dramatically in the last seven years. The number of new social rented homes is at the lowest level since records began and the number of new low-cost homes to buy has halved since 2010.”

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