New figures released by the Government show that England is falling short of its target, warns Shelter, as the housing charity calls for support for SME builders.
Annual housing starts totalled 143,880 in 2015, up by 7 per Cent per cent compared with the year before. 34,920 homes were built in the second quarter of 2016, meanwhile, up 2 per cent from the previous quarter.
However, the figures mark a decrease of 2 per cent compared to the same quarter in the previous year, leaving the country falling short of the 250,000 needed to address England’s housing shortage and 28 per cent below their March quarter 2007 peak.
Shelter is now calling on the government to commit to long-term reform of house building, cautioning that post-referendum uncertainty could cause construction of new homes to fall 8 per cent in the next year.
The charity’s report highlights a number of other key measures to help the market recover, including the government directly commissioning housebuilding by small and medium sized firms, supporting the private sector in building more affordable homes, which can then be sold on local housing associations. Other proposed measures include promoting land market transparency, to make it easier for smaller house-building firms to find and access suitable plots, and gving local communities the powers to force land-owners to make space available for new homes where there is an identified local need.
Roger Harding, Director of Communications, Policy and Campaigns at Shelter, says: “As a country we’re still falling far short of building the number of homes we need. Shelter’s own recent research shows that, without significant reform to the housebuilding market, the government is projected to miss its target of a million homes by 2020 by over a quarter.
“Theresa May now has a real chance to turn things around and return hope to all those being left behind by our housing shortage, but only through committing to measures that can reform house-building for the long term. This includes using record-low interest rates to invest in a new generation of genuinely affordable homes to rent and buy, and helping our struggling small builders access the land and finance they need to build.”
Sarah McMonagle, Director of External Affairs at the FMB, adds: “Even prior to the referendum vote, the government faced an uphill struggle to meet its own target of building one million homes by the end of this Parliament. The number of annual completions have risen steadily over the past couple of years, but not sufficiently to suggest that there’s any margin for error when it comes to the Government’s attempt to increase output. It’s still too early to tell what effect the decision to Brexit will have but it stands to reason that any wobbles in the house building industry will inevitably have a profound effect on our ability to hit that target. It’s therefore essential that the Government is aware of the risks and does everything in its power to mitigate those risks.”
McMonagle continues: “While we’ve been encouraged by the suggestion from the new PM that she will continue to prioritise housing, we need more than just words – we need bold new policy interventions. As Shelter’s report identifies, there’s a compelling case for turbo-charging the SME house building sector, which policy makers have started to recognise is key to reaching the levels of house building that we need.”