William Eichler 26 August 2016

Whitehall must take ‘bold new action’ to tackle housing shortage, LGA says

Council chiefs call for ‘bold new action’ to solve the housing crisis in response to recent Government housebuilding figures.

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) estimated there were 36,400 housebuilding starts in England during the last quarter - a 6% increase on a year earlier.

The figures also reveal completions were around 34,920 - 7% higher than the previous quarter and 2% lower than a year ago.

Between June 2015 and June 2016 annual housing starts and completions totalled 144,280 and 139,030 respectively. Starts were up 2% on the previous year and completions were up 6%.

There was also an increase in the number of private enterprise housing starts and completions. The former were 4% higher in the June quarter 2016 than the previous quarter, and the latter were up 3%.

Starts by housing associations were 6% lower compared to the last quarter and completions 29% higher.

Responding to the latest housebuilding statistics, LGA housing spokesman Cllr Martin Tett said: ‘Bold new action is needed to solve our housing crisis and a renaissance in house building by councils must be at the heart of this.

‘We need to be building up to 250,000 a year to tackle our housing crisis. The private sector clearly has an important role to play but these figures only serve to confirm that they cannot build the homes we need on its own, and will likely be further restricted by uncertainties in the months and years ahead.’

Cllr Tett also added that councils should be able to replace homes sold off under Right to Buy rules.

‘If we are to stand any chance of solving our housing crisis, councils must be able to replace sold homes and reinvest in building more of the genuine affordable homes our communities desperately need now more than ever,’ he said.

Gavin Smart, deputy chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing, said these figures are the ‘clearest indication’ the Government must act to tackle the housing crisis in the Autumn Statement.

‘It’s an encouraging sign that the number of new starts is up, but we are still not building anywhere near the homes we need and with every passing quarter the target of a million new homes in the lifetime of this Parliament becomes harder to achieve,’ he said.

’In recent weeks research has shown us that homeownership is at a 30-year low, private renting is at a 40-year high and homelessness continues to steadily rise.’

‘The latest house building figures, taken together with research demonstrating the challenges our housing market now faces are the clearest indication that the government must act in the Autumn Statement to make sure more homes are built and the organisations ready to build them are supported,’ he added.

An analysis by Capital Economics, commissioned by Shelter, yesterday warned the Government will fall short of their 1 million homes by 2020 target by 266,000 houses.

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