Homes started by housing associations in freefall

Homes started by housing associations in freefall

Just over 3,000 homes were started by housing associations in England between April and June – a massive drop from the 7,130 started in the same quarter two years ago when the Coalition came to power, official figures show.

The 3,080 homes started in the three months to June is the lowest seasonally adjusted figure reported in a quarter since 2002 – when Communities and Local Government’s live tables go back to.

Across all tenures, 21,540 were started in the three months to June, down 10% on the previous quarter and down from the 30,420 in the same quarter two years ago.

Between April and June housing associations completed 6,710 homes – down 11% on the quarter, but up from the 5,970 completed during the same period two years ago.

Across all tenures, completions stood at 29,470 to June, down 6% from the previous quarter but up from the 27,560 completed this time two years ago.

Annual starts totalled 98,670 in the 12 months to June 2012, down by 10 per cent compared with the year before; while completions for the same period reached 118,330 – an increase of 8%.

The Government has announced plans to build 170,000 affordable homes by 2015 – the bulk of which will be provided by housing associations. It has also provided grant upfront – through the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) – to kick-start the programme.

The HCA’s cash incentive saw providers awarded with 75% per unit payable once start on site was confirmed before 31 March. The Greater London Authority has also announced plans to pay 75 per cent of the Affordable Housing Grant upfront to housing associations for each home started onsite this year.

The Government has also announced a host of measures to boost supply across all tenures. This includes the introduction of the National Planning Policy Framework which aims to speed up supply, the New Homes Bonus – which financially rewards councils for granting permission for new homes – and has launched mortgage support products to help developers sell new homes.

It has also freed councils up to build new homes through the scrapping of the Housing Revenue Account.

Jack Dromey MP, Labour’s shadow housing minister, said the figures were “disappointing”. He urged the Government to implement a bank bonus tax to fund 25,000 affordable homes.

Shelter chief Campbell Robb said the figures were “shocking”, making it impossible for the government to ignore the need for radical action to boost house building.

National Housing Federation chief executive David Orr urged the Government to set out “bold and ambitious” proposals to re-charge the house building industry.