The new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has been criticised for asserting a record number of new properties were built last year, when this piece of information is incorrect.
He made the error during his first appearance at Prime Minister’s Questions last week, asserting: “I’m pleased we had a record number of new homes built in the last year.”
While there were 173,520 new homes completed in England between June 2021 and June 2022, according to research by Full Fact, this is not as high as the previous 12-month period when 181,900 new homes were finished.
Commenting on his slip up, policy advisor at the Chartered Institute of Housing John Perry said: “Last year wasn’t a bad year, but it wasn’t a record year.”
In fact, emeritus professor of economic geography at London School of Economics Paul Cheshire said Sunak’s claims are not only false, but misleading.
“The main thing to stress is that there is really a strong long-term decline in housebuilding,” the professor stated.
Indeed, Full Fact released a statement saying: “While recent building figures are higher than in some previous years, they’re generally far lower than records set decades ago.”
In the 1960s, housebuilding reached its peak, with more than 300,000 dwellings typically completing every year. In 1960, over 350,000 new homes were completed, making this era a huge one for housebuilding.
The financial crises of the 1980s and 2008 had a negative effect on construction, while lockdown restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic also impacted the speed at which houses could be built.
According to Homes England, the number of new starts and completions between April 1st and September 30th 2020 dropped by 38 per cent and 25 per cent respectively compared with the previous year’s figures.
Pausing work on sites for several weeks and then having to implement social distancing meant between 60 and 100 per cent of employees were unable to be on site at any point during the pandemic.
Sunak was clearly trying to create positivity in the industry and provide encouraging figures, even if they were not entirely accurate.
Since 2020, construction work has managed to pick up again, with 216,490 net additional dwellings between 2020-21 and 243,200 new dwelling energy performance certificates (EPCs) lodged in the year leading to June 2022.
Despite this, 2022’s figures are lower than the previous year’s, with the number of new dwelling EPCs lodged dropping by four per cent in 12 months.
What’s more, the number of new build dwelling completions in England fell by five per cent from June 2021 to June 2022.
Sunak also avoiding addressing the government’s failure to hit its target of 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s.
In its 2019 manifesto, the Conservative Party committed to this figure, aiming to see at least a million new properties being constructed before the next Parliament.
So far, the government has failed to hit this goal, but housing secretary Michael Gove recently confirmed the objective is still a priority, despite the difficult economic situation, the Telegraph reported.
Take a look at KBS building supplies in Charlton here to help the government reach its 300,000 target.