Building industry 'far from recovery'

The chief executive of the house builder Persimmon has warned that the UK housing industry is still far from a full recovery – despite his company posting encouraging sales figures for the first part of 2011.

After a torrid end to 2010, caused by the uncertainty ahead the Government's spending cuts and the bad weather during November and December, Persimmon has rallied in the new year, with the value of its new sales reservations up 12 per cent on the same period last year.

However, with the total value of their order book standing only at the same level as in April 2010, the chief executive, Mike Farley, warned that the market still has a long way to go to recover fully.

"It is a modest recovery that you have to put in context," he said. "In the first three and a half months of this year we have only been able to take our order book back on par to where it was last year. The economic backdrop is challenging. It's been very tough since the credit crunch because of a lack of mortgage availability. In that period we saw availability drop from 120,000 to 30,000 [a month]. We're back up to 53,000 but there is still a lack of finance and we're a long way off 2007 levels."