New Housing Secretary appointed, as latest construction safety data published

All change in Government as new Housing Secretary appointed

In a tumultuous week for UK politics, Housing Minister Stuart Andrew resigned on Wednesday, followed a day later by Secretary of State Michael Gove, sacked by Boris Johnson as the Prime Minister came to the end of his tenure.

Sworn in as Housing Secretary was Greg Clark, who returns to the department he ran in 2015 and 2016. He faces a number of challenges and ongoing issues, becoming the fifth Housing Secretary in six years.


Halifax reports on a “defiant” housing market in latest HPI

This week saw Halifax publish its house price index for June, reporting an average monthly increase in property value of 1.8%, and 13% across the year – the highest growth rate since 2004.

However, the report did warn that “a slowing of house price growth should still be expected in the months ahead.”

A typical property now costs £294,845, with Northern Ireland continuing to post the strongest regional growth.

The UK housing market defied any expectations of a slowdown, with average property prices up 1.8% in June, the biggest monthly rise since early 2007.

Property prices so far appear to have been largely insulated from the cost of living squeeze. This is partly because, right now, the rise in the cost of living is being felt most by people on lower incomes, who are typically less active in buying and selling houses.

RUSSELL GALLEY, MANAGING DIRECTOR, HALIFAX

The mortgage lender also revealed a large shift towards bigger properties, with average prices for detached houses rising by almost twice the rates of apartments over the past year.


Housebuilding activity starts to shrink, whilst latest safety data published

The latest S&P Global / CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index has revealed that UK construction activity expanded at its weakest pace for nine months in June.

Down to 52.6 in June, from 56.4 in May, the monthly survey also revealed a sharp decline in business expectations for the year ahead.

Housebuilding was the weakest-performing area of construction activity for the fourth month running, with a score of 49.3 signalling an overall downturn in residential work for the first time since May 2020.

Housebuilding has expanded more quickly than the rest of the construction sector over the course of the pandemic, but now finds itself as the worst-performing broad category so far in 2022.

TIM MOORE, ECONOMICS DIRECTOR, S&P GLOBAL MARKET INTELLIGENCE

Meanwhile, latest data from the Health and Safety Executive revealed that construction is the UK’s deadliest industry, with 30 of the 123 work-related deaths in 2021/22 occurring in the sector.

However, this figure is almost 20% lower than the five-year average of 36 workers, and 30% lower than the previous year, when 39 workers died from incidents on site.


Persimmon build rates fall, as Vistry bemoan planning issues

Volume housebuilder Persimmon built fewer homes in the first half of 2022 than the same period last year, blaming material and labour shortages, and delays in the planning system.

A trading update revealed that 6,652 new homes were completed in the first half of this year, compared to 7,406 in 2021.

Meanwhile, Vistry have hit out at the planning system, claiming that a combination of local authorities not processing planning applications quickly enough and growing environmental challenges were preventing the developer from building as quickly as it could.

In a trading statement, Chief Executive Greg Fitzgerald said: “Planning remains the single most significant constraint on the business…we are responding proactively by factoring longer lead times into our site forecasting.”

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