If you read Grant Shapps’ statement today the housing minister gives the distinct impression that housebuilding is bouncing back from its recent historic lows.
“Housebuilding in 2010-11 was 29 per cent higher compared to 2008-9, and compared to 2009-10, it was 17 per cent higher,” the minister declared.
On the basis of housing “starts” (where work has begun on a site) that is the case. They rose from 80,550 to 88,690 to 103,750 over those three years.
Yet if you look at actual “completions” – ie when a home is finished – the figures tell the opposite story. In fact there were 142,680 completions in 2008, 119,070 in 2009 and 103,300 in 2010. (The periods are not quite compatible but are similar enough.)
UPDATE: A spokeswoman for the communities department says ministers have used the “start” figures as they are a “better and more immediate” indication of levels of activity in the housebuild market. “Completion figures tend to lag behind current trends and ministers would also point out that at present still largely reflect housing market conditions under the previous administration.”