Just how bad is the government's record on housebuilding?

Not since the 1970s have 300,00 homes been built in a single year. 228,370 homes were completed in 2021. However, ongoing economic turbulence means it's highly unlikely even that figure will be met this year. But just how broken are government housebuilding promises and does a top-down, arbitrary figure have any real purpose these days?

Related topics:  Construction,  Government,  New Build,  Housebuilders
Property | Reporter
15th March 2023
question 833
"We expect it will be this lacklustre approach to housebuilding that is unveiled in this week’s spring statement, rather than a new commitment to a more meaningful target"

New research by debt advisory specialists, Sirius Property Finance, has revealed that despite whisperings of new housebuilding targets being set by the government, historic figures show these are likely to amount to little more than false promises following their failure to hit their previous targets by quite some margin.

Sirius Property Finance looked at historic dwelling completion figures across England stretching back to the late 1970s, before analysing dwellings built versus the 300,000 target set out by the government and Chancellor Phillip Hammond in November 2017.

The government recently made the decision to scrap its housebuilding target of 300,000 homes, a target that was originally set out in the 2019 Conservative manifesto and to be reached by the mid-2020s.

When it was first unveiled by the then Chancellor Phillip Hammond in November 2017, there were some 162,470 homes built across England that year. 46% off the pace of their intended target for the future.

This total grew steadily to 177,880 homes built in 2019, the highest total seen since 2017 but still -41% below the 300,000 target.

The impact of the pandemic then saw this total fall to 146,630 homes in 2020, less than half of the government’s annual target, before climbing to 174,930 new homes delivered in 2021.

However, it’s estimated that just 170,200 new homes have been built across England in 2022, a 3% year-on-year decline in output and -43% below the annual target of 300,00 homes.

Since 2020 when the government intended to hit its target of 300,000 new homes a year, just 491,760 of the proposed 900,000 have been built.

In fact, the government hasn’t come close to hitting this annual target in the last 45 years, with the highest level of housing delivered in a single year coming in 1978 when 241,310 homes were built.

Nicholas Christofi, Managing Director of Sirius Property Finance, commented: “The government’s failure when it comes to housing delivery is clear for all to see and it’s even more disappointing still that they have chosen to throw in the towel and water down these targets, rather than commit to solving the housing crisis.

"We expect it will be this lacklustre approach to housebuilding that is unveiled in this week’s spring statement, rather than a new commitment to a more meaningful target.

"Of course, given their historic failures, it’s fair to say that any ambitions they may have are likely to amount to little more than recycled rhetoric, rather than actual homes built.”

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