Housing completions in England in the third quarter of this year at just 24,250 were the lowest in a generation or two at least.

The government can hide its shame a little by pointing to the seasonally adjusted figures which show completions in the final quarter of 2010 were lower.

This still falls within the current government’s time in office, but they have some room then to blame their predecessors.

While a decline in the social sector might be expected, the figures also show that starts and completions in the private sector have stalled and appear to be heading into a gentle decline again.

These figures perhaps explain the recent increase in noise about a housing strategy and the need to rejuvenate house building.

But one important question that comes to my mind is whether or not the housing minister is losing credibility.

I ask this because in May this year Grant Shapps was quick to crow when housing completions and starts were on an upward curve. That now looks rather hasty.

His implication was that his policies were working. Indeed his comments were highlighted in a tweet from the Communities department.

He seems to have badly misread the data, as I and others warned at the time.

But having made great play of the figures then he has been almost studiously quiet on the latest, and arguably more important, set. He is a prolific user of twitter, but he has not felt it necessary to tweet on the numbers by which he himself says he will be judged.

This all rather lays at his door the criticism of being a fair-weather minister.

The industry and the nation needs more. 

Kipling comes to mind.


PS: Rather oddly I found the data harder than usual to track down through my normal route. And there was no helpful tweet from the department’s press office, nor that much help when I rang.