New figures released by the government show there was a 23 per cent increase in the number of new-builds during 2013 compared with the previous year. Development by private sector builders and construction by housing associations both increased substantially.
Building work was started on a total of 122,590 new homes, the highest number for six years.
Despite this, figures published by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) also reveal that the number of homes completed last year, 109,370, was five per cent down on 2012. It was also the lowest total of completed new homes since 2010.
Almost 13,000 – 12 per cent – of the completed new-builds in 2013 were sold under the government’s Help to Buy equity loan scheme, which began 10 months ago.
Although the six-year high for new-builds is a welcome statistic and will go some way towards easing the shortage of homes, the figures are still well down on the all-time high of 425,000 new homes built in a 12-month period in the late 1960s.
Housing analysts say the pace of construction is still well below the level needed to make serious inroads into the national housing shortage. In fact, the 2013 figures are less than half of the estimated 250,000 new homes which will be needed every year to meet growing consumer demand.
However, the housing industry is expecting a significant surge in the number of new home completions later this year to reflect the increased number of starts in 2013. Typically, it can take up to and sometimes more than a year to buy land, get planning permission and finally build a house.
It is also encouraging that most major building companies and smaller housebuilders are planning to step up their construction programmes over the coming year. Again, Help to Buy is a driving force behind these plans.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles (pictured) said: “Last year we built the most homes since 2007, and even the appalling weather conditions this winter have not stopped our hardy builders from getting the job done. That means an increase in small firms benefiting from the surge in construction orders, and more business confidence in the economy.
“We have prioritised resources to increase the number of affordable homes, and help credit-worthy buyers onto the housing ladder. But there’s still more to do, and improving the housing market will remain a vital part of our long-term economic plan.”