UK construction firms plan 15,000 new homes in October

Tom BelgerFinance and policy reporter
Figures suggest affordable home construction is booming. Photo: REUTERS/Eddie Keogh
Figures suggest affordable home construction is booming. Photo: REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

Construction firms confirmed plans to build more than 15,000 new homes in October, a slight rise on a year ago despite widespread uncertainty ahead of Britain’s looming departure from the EU.

New figures suggest building work has risen sharply in the affordable and rental sector, up 22% in August to October compared to the same quarter a year earlier. This includes social housing, developer homes at ‘affordable’ rent and shared ownership.

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But the construction of homes for private sales has slumped, down 12% over the same period.

A total of 15,343 new homes were registered last month with NHBC, a warranty and insurance provider that says it covers around 80% of new homes in the UK.

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That marked a 6% rise on the previous year, though the growth was uneven across the UK.

Only four of 12 regions saw increased construction over the summer, including an eye-catching 56% boom in construction in the West Midlands.

Building work in London picked up, 10% higher than a year earlier.

Steve Wood, NHBC chief executive, said: “Following several months of slowdown as a result of Brexit uncertainties, it is promising to see encouraging numbers for October.”

The figures cover registrations rather than the start or completion of work. Builders register new plots or homes to be built in the coming weeks or months with warranty and insurance providers.

The data comes after a more widely watched survey across the wider UK construction sector showed activity continuing to decline in October, but performing slightly better than the previous month.

Construction levels rose to a 44.2 reading on the IHS Markit/CIPS constructing purchasing managers’ index (PMI), up from 43.3 but still below the flat mark at 50.

The PMI figures also suggested private residential construction levels had dropped to a three-year low.

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