Lockdown affects housing completions, as New Homes Ombudsman revealed

Lockdown effects revealed, as housing completion statistics published

The effect of last year’s lockdowns was reflected in official data regarding housing completions this week, as the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities revealed that 216,489 net additional dwellings were created in 2020/21 – a drop of 26,000 (11%) on the previous year.

The period, which covered the year to March 2021, saw the lowest completions recorded for five years. There were 194,060 new-build homes, 23,790 changes of use, 3,870 conversions between houses and flats, and 530 other gains, offset by 5,760 demolitions.

Inflation drives rebound in builders’ merchant sales

Data from the Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI) revealed that the value of sales increased in September 2021 by 6.2% when compared to August, and 14.9% compared to September 2020.

However, despite this increase resulting in the second-highest quarter on record from July-September 2021, the value of sales has mostly been driven by material cost inflation, with annual sales of timber and joinery products increasing by 38.7% in value.

Concerns over product testing regime, as new homes ombudsman partner revealed

This week saw an open letter penned to Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng by Andy Mitchell, Co-Chair of the Construction Leadership Council, expressing concern over the introduction of the UK CA Mark.

The post-Brexit certification, to be brought into force in January 2023, could delay construction of more than 150,000 homes, and adversely affect the industry’s switch to low carbon heating.

Meanwhile, the New Homes Quality Board has selected the Dispute Service to be the independent New Homes Ombudsman, with Group Director of Resolution Alison MacDougall appointed as the ombudsman delegate.

The Ombudsman will enforce the New Homes Quality Code, a new housebuilding code of practice, which sets new standards of quality and customer care on builders and developers. The service is due to come online in the New Year.

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