Quarterly housing starts down 11%

Data from the Office for National Statistics shows house building starts stood at 24,140 for Q1 2012, down 11% on Q4 2011.

Private enterprise housing starts were 8% lower in Q1 2012 compared with Q4 2012, while starts by housing associations were 21% lower.

On the plus side, completions were up 6% on the previous quarter at 31,010, and private enterprise and housing association completions both increased by 8%. New housing starts are also currently 42% above the trough in Q1 2009.

But the figures are 50% below the Q4 2005 peak and completions are 36% below their peak in Q1 2007.

Simon Rubinsohn, chief economist at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, says there are good reasons for expecting government policy to gradually have an impact on the level of starts.

But he adds: “The NewBuy Guarantee scheme only started a couple of months ago and is taking a while to gain traction. A more important issue for the medium term could prove to be the planning changes that have been pushed through by the government.

“But even if the measures do pay dividends, it is hard to see the increase coming anywhere near the level of housing required.”