New housing experienced solid growth in March, up 3.8% on the month, despite a 0.7% drop in wider UK construction output, the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show.
In spite of the wider slowdown in the construction sector in March, which was the third consecutive period of negative month-on-month growth, residential property building levels rose by 5.4% on the year and 0.2% on the quarter.
The ONS said repair and maintenance was the main drag on construction output, shrinking both month-on-month and quarter-on-quarter by 1.8% and 0.2%, respectively.
Richard Connolly, CEO of Rentplus, commented: “The construction output figures are a timely reminder that Brexit should not be the only issue in the next government’s in-tray.
“New housing output rose by 3.8% month-on-month and strikingly has increased by 5.4% month-on-year. It’s welcome that we’re seeing more homes being built, the question is how do we ensure that these homes are truly affordable for ordinary people?
“Is it not time that we looked at the private sector to help us to fund a broader range of tenures?
“We might be building more homes, but we must urgently look at solutions that truly enable ordinary people to live in them.”
Looking ahead, shortages of existing homes coming on to the market and the government’s Help to Buy Scheme should continue to support housebuilding, but Connolly believes that Help to Buy and shared ownership models can only go so far, and are really designed to enable those with some capital, “likely those with access to the bank of mum and dad”, to get on the ladder.
“It is time we implemented solutions that don’t rely on high deposit levels and which take the pressure off social housing,” he added.