House-building picked up in 2014 – but what will happen this year?
Is house building really recovering, as the government asserts, or is this just a good spin? Housing Minister Brandon Lewis welcomed new figures showing a rise in the numbers of homes being built across the country, saying:
“Today’s figures show we’re on track and turning this around. Now, house building levels are at their highest annual total since 2007”
What has actually happened is that 118,760 new houses were built in England in the past 12 months. this is 9,270 more than the comparable figure a year ago, but surprisingly only 3,170 more than three years ago, as there was another dip in 2012/2013.
Any increase in the number of homes being built is worth at least a small cheer, but the news need to be seen in perspective:
- There are already signs that house building may dip again, as stronger results for most of the year were followed by 2,850 fewer homes built in Q4 than in the same quarter a year earlier.
- Most seriously, house building is still running at far too low levels to begin to address housing need. The increase in 2014 only brought us back to 64% of pre-crisis levels. Government needs to drastically up the pace.
In addition, the number of owner-occupiers has shrunk by nearly half a million since the crisis began. this is the first time in living memory that home ownership has declined, and it bodes ill for many people’s happiness as well as putting something of a brake on our economy. The Coalition has yet to stop the rot.