Lies, damned lies and…new housing supply figures

Some good news on housing supply? Kate Allen in the FT reports some startling figures regarding the level of new home construction in England.  There are major discrepancies between the official figures and the numbers suggested by a “more methodologically thorough” count and by the levels of EPC certificates that have been granted.

More methodologically thorough data, drawn from local authorities’ assessments for council tax purposes, suggests the official figures miss about 20 per cent of new construction…Another data series that records the number of energy performance certificates issued to newly-built homes suggests as many as a quarter of them may be missing from the official figures…In particular, the official data appear to miss out new homes in large cities. Nearly a quarter of properties constructed in London in 2015/16 were left out. Other areas with significant undercounts include Birmingham, Liverpool, Sheffield and Manchester… Neal Hudson from Savills, an estate agent, said that the official statistics tended to undercount homes built by small housebuilders and social landlords in particular.

The discrepancy between the various estimates was particularly large for 2015. The “most commonly used figures” indicated construction levels at around 125,000 new dwellings.  The other two indicators suggested approximately 155,000 new dwellings (Council Tax registrations) and 165,000 new dwellings (EPC certificates).  It’s tricky to know what’s going on.  It could be lots of small-scale conversions.

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