Overall activity level higher in the first half of the financial year than during 2020, but lower than for most recent years

The number of Homes England-funded affordable homes started on site fell to a four-year low in the first half of 2021/22.

The latest official housing statistics from Homes England show 9,255 affordable homes were started on site in the six months to 30 September, which is even lower than the 9,967 recorded during the same period the previous year amid the covid-19 lockdown.

The last time affordable housing starts were as low was in the first half of 2017/18 when 6,968 affordable homes were started.

A Homes England spokesperson said the drop was due to the closure of bidding for the Shared Ownership and Affordable Homes Programme (SOAHP) 2016-21 in March 2021.

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Affordable home completions, however, rose 23% year-on-year to 10,007, although this was lower than the numbers recorded in the same period in the three years prior to the pandemic.

Market housing starts rose to 3,974, from last year’s low of 2,685, however the figure was otherwise lower than for any year since 2015/16. Similarly, housing completions bounced back to 4,282 from last year’s 3,923, but was otherwise the lowest they’ve been since 2017/18.

Overall, both market and affordable housing starts rose 4.6% to 13,229. Last year’s pandemic-hit figures aside, the last time the stats figure was lower was 2015/16. Similarly, overall completions rose year-on-year 18.7% to 14,289, but was lower than every other year going back to 2017/18.

Responding to the figures, Peter Denton, chief executive of Homes England, said the statistics show “positive signs” that housebuilding is recovering from the pandemic.

He said: “Despite the pressures still faced by the industry, it’s clear that our partners are working incredibly hard to build the new homes the country needs.

“As the new affordable homes programme swings into action, we look forward to working with ambitious housebuilders of all shapes and sizes, to help them realise their development ambitions and support the Government’s housing objectives.”