Government reveals sharp decline in housing starts over last three months compared to last year

Housing starts fell by a quarter in the last three months compared to last year, according to the latest government figures.

The figures show starts declined by 24% in the first quarter from the same quarter in 2007, to 32,100, a fall of 21% on the last three months of last year.

Completions also fell in the same period, although by not as great an amount, down 18% on the year before to 39,500.

The Communities department also released starts and completions figures for the whole of 2007/8, showing just 156,400 starts in England in the period. The figure is a fall of ten per cent on 2006/7, and fall of 18% on the peak of housing starts in 2005/6.

Completions were down in 2007/8 from to 168,200 to 167,500.

The publication of the figures follow the prime minister Gordon Brown attempts to revive the market earlier this week. Measures included a decision to spend £200 million buying up unsold private homes for the social housing sector.

Stewart Baseley, executive chair of the HBF, said: “These figures are further evidence of the deterioration in the housing market. While Wednesday’s announcements were welcomed, they do not go far enough and if further action is not taken and taken quickly, in addition to the immediate threat to jobs then the government’s long term housing targets are in jeopardy.”

A spokesman for the British Property Federation said the figures showed the government needed to act incentivise the entry of institution-backed professional private landlords to build new homes.

He said: “The figures are unsurprising and offer us another reminder that the government needs to focus on real solutions rather than old ideas dressed up as new legislation, as we saw in the Queen's Speech.”