Official figures show that more than 200,000 new homes were added to the housing stock in England last year – an increase of 15 per cent on the previous year.
The figures will be welcomed by Theresa May, who on Thursday will promise to take “personal charge” in her “mission” to tackle Britain’s housing shortage and provide tens of thousands more homes.
The newly-released figures show that for 2016-17 the number of additional dwellings stood at 217,350.
This is up by 27,700 on the previous year and the highest since the financial crisis (223,530) but still fell short of the 250,000 housing charity Shelter estimates are needed each year to tackle the crisis.
The “net additional dwellings” figures released by the Department for Communities and Local Government include 183,570 new-build homes completed in 2016/17, along with 5,680 conversions and 37,190 changes in use from agricultural, business or storage to residential. The total was reduced by almost 10,000 demolitions.
Speaking ahead of a visit to a housing development in Barnet, North London, on Thursday, Ms May will say: “We must get back into the business of building the good quality new homes for people who need them most.
“That is why I have made it my mission to build the homes the country needs and take personal charge of the Government’s response.
“Today I am seeing the work now underway to put this right and in coming weeks and months my Government will be going further to ensure that we build more homes, more quickly.”
And speaking at the Temple Meds Quarter in Bristol on Thursday, Sajid Javid, the Communities Secretary, also warned there is a “generation crying out for help” in the housing market.
He added: “Without affordable, secure, safe housing we risk creating a rootless generation, drifting from one short-term tenancy to the next, never staying long enough to play a role in their community.
“Our housing white paper in February set out out broad vision. It described the scale of the challenge and the need for action on many fronts. Since them we’ve been putting it into action, laying the foundations for hundreds of thousands more homes.”
Mr Javid said that housing association debt was being taken off the balance sheet, in an accounting change the Communities Secretary believes will give a stable investment environment to fund new homes.
The Home Builders Federation said the figures showed the industry was well on track to “smash” the target of building a million new homes.
Executive chairman Stewart Baseley said: “The housing crisis built up over several decades and will take many years to fix. Today's statistics illustrate the huge progress being made, and the rapid rate at which builders have responded to positive measures from Government to deliver more and more new homes.”
But John Healey, the shadow housing minister, said the figures confirmed that new housebuilding is yet to return to level it was at before the global financial crisis.
“Any increase in new housing is welcome but in any other area of public policy this record of failure would be cause for resignation, not celebration,” he said.
“Meanwhile genuinely affordable housebuilding has fallen dramatically in the last years,” he added. “The number of new social rented homes is at the lowest level since records began and the number of new low-cost homes to buy has halved since 2010.”
Lindsay Judge, a senior policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said the increase was “encouraging” but still “well short” of the promised 250,000 new homes a year - “a target that has never been met by the Government over the last decade”, she said.
Ms Judge continued: “The government will need to do more to get to grips with the housing crisis. The Chancellor must take action to tackle high housing costs across the board in the Budget next week, and in particular show how the government will help the many young people who are stuck in the private rented sector.“
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