Housebuilding rises but numbers still below target
The number of homes built in England rose to 37,000 in the last quarter, but completions are still falling short of government targets.
There were 37,080 starts – a 6% increase on the previous quarter and a 23% rise on the same period a year before.
Annual housing completions in England stood at 142,890 in the 12 months to December 2015, up 21% compared with the previous 12 months.
The number of completions in the three months to December was 22% higher than the same quarter the previous year.
However, the figures are likely to raise questions about whether the government will achieve its target of building one million homes during this parliament.
Brandon Lewis announced the one million homes target last year, which would require an annual 200,000 completions – or 50,000 homes every quarter.
Melanie Rees, head of policy at the Chartered Institute of Housing, said: “The cost of housing means that millions of people are struggling to access a decent home at a price they can afford, so it’s very encouraging to see a 21% increase in the number of homes built in the year to December 2015.
“But we still have a long way to go. We have failed to build the number of homes we need for decades, and today’s figures show that 142,890 homes were built in 2015 – a long way short of the 250,000 experts estimate we need to keep up with our growing population and start tackling the shortfall that has built up over the years. Rough sleeping numbers also out today have revealed that the number of people rough sleeping in England has jumped by 30% – the consequences of our failure to build enough homes hit the most vulnerable hardest.
“The government is taking steps to boost housebuilding, but most of its investment is focused on homeownership. An increase in numbers is not enough – we need to make sure we are providing new homes for people on all incomes, including those who can’t afford to buy.”