Housebuilders will be cheered by the signs that the industry is benefiting from a rise in housing starts.

The National House Building Council says starts rose 10% in the three months to May compared with a year earlier.

However, brick and block deliveries in the three months ended April were down 11% and 10% respectively on a year earlier, indicating the shift towards construction of flats.

On a more positive note, the latest figures point to a modest rise in consumer confidence. Retail sales growth in May was up 3.2% compared with a year earlier, and a boost in housing market activity has prompted an increase in annual house price inflation, which according to the Department for Communities and Local Government stood at 5.1% in April.

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