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Shelter renews call for more new homes after 'worrying' housebuilding figures

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Shelter renews call for more new homes after 'worrying' housebuilding figures

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Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government, Communities

Shelter renews call for more new homes after 'worrying' housebuilding figures Shelter renews call for more new homes after 'worrying' housebuilding figures

Shelter has renewed its call for more homes, as government figures show the number of new homes built has fallen by 8% in three months.

The Department for Communities and Local Government reported that the number of new build housing starts between January-March 2013 was 4% higher than the previous quarter, at 27,370, but completions, at 24,900, were 8% lower.

Campbell Robb, Shelter’s chief executive, said: "This is yet another set of worrying figures. With a gloomy construction sector continuing to drag down growth, the Government must be starting to realise that its policies simply aren’t working.

"Short-term quick-fix announcements may have stolen some headlines, but the reality is a that generation's hope for a home of their own is continuing to slip away because of our chronic shortage of affordable homes.

"If the government is serious about building more homes, it needs to show some leadership on the tough decisions we face. Whether it’s finding new capital investment, freeing up councils to borrow to build more homes, or getting garden cities off the ground, we need bolder action and long-term thinking to pull housebuilding out of this slump.

"The government must use next month’s Comprehensive Spending Review to announce large-scale projects that will deliver the homes we need, or it will find it more difficult than ever to convince a priced-out generation that it’s on their side."

However, Simon Rubinsohn, RICS Chief Economist, put a more positive spin on the figures.

He said: “The increase in activity in the new build sector mirrors the stronger tone seen in the latest RICS residential market survey. However, in addition to benefiting from the impact of the Funding for Lending Scheme, developers have also been able to take advantage of various other government initiatives including First Buy and NewBuy. This has been reflected in the sharper rise in private sector starts. By way of contrast, the picture amongst both Housing Associations and local authorities is altogether flatter.

“Government has extended its support for the new build sector through the introduction of Help to Buy. By opening up the shared equity product to a greater range of purchasers, the intention is to stimulate a greater level of development. While RICS expect this to be reflected in a higher level of new build over the balance of this year, there remains a question mark as to how much additional activity will be stimulated specifically by this programme.

"RICS expect housing starts to climb to around 115,000 this year which compares with fewer than 100,000 in 2012. This will, nevertheless, still leave the level of house building way short of projected household formation and suggests that rather more will need to be done to address this key challenge for the country.”

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