HOUSING Building confidence in recovery

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The Independent Online
The number of new homes being built in Britain has reached its highest level for over two years, according to government statistics. Ministers claimed this was further evidence of a strong recovery in the housing market, with a 33 per cent rise in the last quarter of 1996, compared with the same period a year earlier.

The number of new homes started in the whole of 1996 was put at 174,200, 4 per cent higher than in 1995. The latest figures for homes under construction are broadly in line with the Government's census-based prediction that 4.4 million extra homes are needed in England over the next 25 years.

But these statistics also show that while private-sector house construction is gathering strength, public-sector building by housing associations for poorer families remains in a slump, following severe cuts in government grants.