New figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government show that annual housing supply in England amounted to 217,350 net additional dwellings in 2016-17, up 15% on 2015-16 and 3% below the 2007-08 peak of 223,530.
Chartered Institute of Housing head of policy Melanie Rees said "We need a swift and significant increase in new homes to get to grips with our national housing crisis, so these numbers are very encouraging – it looks like we are making genuine progress. However, it’s vital that we keep up the momentum. We know we need around 250,000 new homes a year in England to meet demand and start to tackle the chronic shortage that has built up over the past few decades, so we are still some way short of where we need to be.
"To truly tackle our national housing crisis, we need all parts of the industry firing on all cylinders – that means private developers, local authorities and housing associations. And it’s not just about building more homes, it’s about building more affordable homes for people on lower incomes. Next week’s Budget is a chance for the government to build on the steps it has already taken to boost the number of new homes for genuinely affordable rents."
The new figures come as Prime Minister Theresa May has pledged to take personal charge of the government’s response to the housing crisis. Meanwhile the Office for National Statistics has confirmed that English housing associations will be reclassified as private non-financial corporations, moving their debt off the national balance sheet. Melanie Rees said: “Although we have been expecting this decision for some time, it is welcome news. It’s important that housing associations retain their independent status, not least because it means they can secure significant amounts of private finance to bolster public investment in housing.”
She added: "It’s encouraging to see that ministers are backing housing of all tenures, particularly more social housing."
David Orr, Chief Executive at the National Housing Federation, also said "We strongly support the ONS’ decision, endorsed by the Secretary of State, to reclassify housing associations as private bodies. This is welcome recognition of their position as independent social businesses with a shared social purpose of building a quality home that everyone can afford.
"Housing associations already represent excellent value for the taxpayer – for every £1 Government puts in, housing associations put £6 of their own.
"In the last year, the sector started building almost 50,000 new homes – an increase of 13% on 2015/16. This change will allow them to build on their strong track record and secure the long-term finance needed to build even more affordable homes."