Yesterday’s housebuilding data painted a bleak picture. Last year was the worst for housebuilding starts since 2009, which was itself pretty uniquely awful.
It’s worth emphasising this point – since 2009 housebuilding activity has been at the lowest levels since the second world war. Just look at this:
You can see where all that activity came from in the 1950s to 1970s, of course – local authorities’ massive council housebuilding programmes. Private housebuilding by contrast didn’t even reach today’s relatively pitiful levels until the late 1950s.
With the decline of councils’ building programmes and the mass transfer of millions of homes out of local authorities’ hands through both the Right To Buy and stock transfers, housing associations have come into the ascendant – as a look at the data by type of builder shows:
As one of my colleagues pointed out yesterday, we’re now in a different era and a repetition of the vast state-run building boom of the post-war period cannot be expected anytime soon. But it does pose the question: if not state-funded, then who else is going to get Britain building again?