April 13, 2021

Housebuilding starts and completions fell in 2020

According to new figures released today (Thursday 18th March) by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government there’s been a fall in both the number of new build homes started or completed during 2020, raising questions about whether the government’s target of building 300,000 homes a year by the middle of the decade will be met.

Starts also fell in all regions with the exception of London, with the largest decrease being seen in the north-west, putting Boris Johnson’s aim of ‘levelling up’ at risk.

According to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, the indicators of new housing supply statistics should be regarded as a leading indicator of overall supply. They show:

  • An estimated 148,630 new build dwellings were completed in the year to December 2020, a decrease of 17% compared to the year to December 2019. 
  • There were 127,600 estimated new build dwellings starts in the year to December 2020, a 16% decrease compared to the year to December 2019. 
  • In the year to December 2020, starts fell in all regions except London, where starts were 11% higher in the year to December 2020 than the year to December 2019. The largest decrease was 27% in the North-West.
  • The number of dwellings where building work has started on site was 42,110 in October to December 2020. This is a 16% increase when compared to last quarter.
  • The number of dwellings onsite was 46,950 in October to December 2020. This is a 4% increase when compared to last quarter. 

Commenting on the figures, Clive Docwra, Managing Director of property and construction consultancy McBains, said: “The impact of Covid no doubt has had an impact on housebuilding rates, but it’s clear that even with starts and completions increasing in the last quarter of 2020 as construction sites fully returned after lockdown, that housebuilding is still way off the rate needed to meet the government’s target.

“They also show the challenge of levelling up disparity between the number of new homes in London compared to other parts of England, especially the north.

“The volume housebuilders won’t be able to deliver this target on their own, so the government needs to support small and medium-sized housebuilders to help meet the target, and also ensure that it delivers on its rhetoric to cut red tape and speed up ‘permission in principle’ for new homes.”


The Housing supply: indicators of new housing supply figures published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government are available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/970536/Housing_Supply_Indicators_Release_December_2020.pdf