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HBF claims government stats under-report housing completions

Published: Thursday, 22nd September 2016

Around 30,000 new builds are not counted in the official house building statistics according to a report from the Home Builders Federation…

The government’s most publicised measure of house building excludes around a fifth of all new build completions every year because of flawed methodology and poor returns, according to a report published this week.

That’s the central claim of a report from the Home Builders Federation which has insisted that around 30,000 new builds are not counted in the official statistics released on a quarterly and annual basis by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

The report said that these figure underreport new build completions in 75 per cent of local authorities with an average of 153 new homes ‘lost’ in each area.

According to the trade body more than half of new build homes in areas such as Birmingham, Liverpool, Leicester, Salford and many London boroughs are completely unaccounted for in the quarterly series.

The HBF said that as a result, a town equivalent to the size of Stevenage is being ‘lost’ every year. Over the course of a Parliament, during which the government is targeting a million homes “a city larger than Nottingham, Coventry or Newcastle simply vanishes” claimed the organisation.

It highlighted that the published data excluded at least 75 per cent of new homes in the London Boroughs of Brent, Wandsworth, Hammersmith and Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea and some 1,280 new homes in Birmingham (two-thirds of all new build completions).

The HBF said that the so-called ‘Net Supply of Housing’ data series, which is only published once a year, gave a truer picture as it was drawn from more reliable sources and was more closely linked to the numbers local authorities use for determining their Council Tax base.

The HBF said this showed that more than 181,000 homes were added to the housing stock in 2014/15, (the last numbers available) of which 155,000 were new build homes, up 20 per cent year on year.

HBF executive chairman Stewart Basely said: “Housebuilding has increased significantly in recent years but the continual publication and use of inaccurate statistics is painting a negative picture that is undermining the progress being made in tackling the housing shortage."

Roger Milne