Home » Latest UK housing starts and completions figures

Latest UK housing starts and completions figures

Published: 31/01/2024

ONS publishes quarterly data on housing starts and completions carried out by private enterprises, housing associations and local authorities across the UK.

Data is collected from a range of sources, including local authority new build form returns, National House Building Council (NHBC) data, approved inspector data returns, Scottish Government Affordable Housing Supply Programme, and District Council Building Control in Northern Ireland.

Housing starts slump after soaring second quarter

Housing starts in the UK dropped markedly in the third quarter of 2023, with 28,620 starts recorded in the latest provisional data from ONS. This was down 64% on the number of dwellings started in the previous quarter, and 47% less than the number of starts in 3Q2022.

The dip is largely attributed to the unusually high number of starts that were seen in England in 2Q2023, a total of 72,460.

The second quarter coincided with the end of the grace period for changes to building regulations in England. By making ‘technical starts’ on schemes, housebuilders will not have been subject to the associated increased costs of new legislation, even if the dwellings won’t be completed for some time.

In Wales, the number of starts in 3Q2023 increased by 14% from 2Q2023 and was up 9% when compared to the same period last year. Scotland and Northern Ireland both showed decreased starts on a quarterly and annual basis.

All dwellings starts

Starts in 3Q2023 Change from 2Q2023 % change from 3Q2022
UK 28,620 -64% -47%
England 22,230 -69% -52%
Wales 1,420 +14% +9%
Scotland 3,700 -6% -24%
Northern Ireland 1,270 -19% -20%

Source: ONS – House building, UK: permanent dwellings started and completed by country

Of the 22,230 starts in England in 3Q2023, 83% were by private enterprises, while 16% were by housing associations, and 1% by local authorities.

Source: Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, Table 213: permanent dwellings started and completed, by tenure, England (quarterly)

On the completions side, a total number of 45,830 dwellings were completed in 3Q2023, which was 4% less than in the previous quarter, and 9% down on completions in 3Q2022.

Only Scotland had more completions in 3Q2023, with 1% more than in 2Q2023. All parts of the UK were down on 3Q2022.

All dwellings completions

3Q2023 Change from 2Q2023 % change from 3Q2022
UK 45,830 -4% -9%
England 38,550 -4% -5%
Wales 1,000 -10% -25%
Scotland 5,030 +1% -22%
Northern Ireland 1,260 -11% -21%

Source: ONS – House building, UK: permanent dwellings started and completed by country

In England, of the 38,550 dwellings completed in 3Q2023, 79% were by private enterprises. Housing associations were responsible for 7,310, or one in five, completions, while local authorities accounted for 2%.

Compared to pre-Covid building activity in England, completions were down 10% on 3Q2019.

Source: Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, Table 213: permanent dwellings started and completed, by tenure, England (quarterly)

Karl Horton, Chief Data Officer at BCIS, said: ‘After a bumper second quarter for starts in England, it was inevitable that we would then see a drop like this going into the latter half of the year. As both client and contractor, bigger house builders have the ability to reduce their operations according to demand, which explains a fall in completions.

‘The figures for brick deliveries covering the same period for Great Britain show a similar picture in terms of reduced building activity. In 3Q2023, brick deliveries were down 31% on 3Q2022, and stocks were up 113% on the same period.

‘Industry sentiment seems to be that recent reductions in mortgage interest rates will improve the affordability of new homes, which will begin to filter through in the activity we see in the sector over the course of the year. All eyes are now of course on the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee and what decision they make about the base rate on 1 February.’

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