Government officials predict the worst year for housebuilding this century

The number of new homes built in the UK next year will be less than 80,000, the Guardian has reported.

Senior government housing officials have predicted that 2009 will be one of the worst years for housebuilding in living memory. This year's total of new-build homes is likely to reach 120,000, less than half the government's target and the lowest figure since 1924, but the situation is only expected to worsen next year.

The safest sector in the coming year is seen to be publicly-financed projects such as social housing and schools, with £17bn funding coming from the new Homes and Communities Agency over the next three years.

The economic crisis has meant that potential buyers for new homes have encountered increasing problems obtaining a mortgage, but some housebuilders are so desperate to sell that they are now reportedly offering to pay potential buyers' stamp duty, moving costs and legal fees.