Fall in starts and completions may reflect supply chain shortages and cost rises

Housebuilding starts and completions both fell back in the three months to September last year as supply chain shortages intensified, according to official figures.

Data compiled from building control numbers, published by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, showed that seasonally adjusted housing starts fell back by 5% quarter-on-quarter in the third quarter last year to hit 42,400 – albeit still up sharply on the same period in 2020.

Likewise, housing completions fell back by 1%, seasonally adjusted, on the previous quarter, and remained 4% below the same period in 2020.

The figures are not seen as complete figures covering all housebuilding undertaken, but are seen as reliable indicators of trends in housebuilding rates.

Joseph Daniels, founder of modular housing company Etopia Group, said the figures showed that global supply chain issues were “undoubtedly taking a toll on productivity levels”, while a shortage of skilled labour was leading to developers “taking a slightly more pessimistic view on long-term outlooks.”

Daniels said: “Housing output is flatlining. This is a far cry from the heights of 2019, when the delivery of new homes hit a 33-year high.”