This post signposts readers to the official sources of housing statistics relating to new supply and dwelling stock for England collated and reported by the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), with some wider reference to UK-wide statistics that the Office of National Statistics (ONS) reports.
Section 1 provides links to the four main relevant source time series, the housing supply, net additional dwellings (net new supply), and the affordable housing, the dwelling stock, and the indicators of new supply (termed new housebuilding), with relevant data summarised in the commentary and seven annex tables.
All data and commentary refer to England unless otherwise stated.
Links are also provided to dashboards recently published by the DLUHC within their respective series and by the House of Commons Library that will allow them to access some data (sometimes incomplete) at an individual local authority level at a touch of a mouse.
The aim is to provide policymakers and other interested users with a user-friendly guide to the availability of such statistics and their most appropriate application and use depending upon the purpose of the enquiry, along with their associated limitations and uncertainties, hopefully reducing reader use of midnight oil and wet towels in the process.
Section 2 concludes by summarising the primary issues and problems connected with the series data, before making recommendations concerning their future presentment to users.
Comments and observations are welcomed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 The main housing supply statistical series
Housing supply: net additional dwellings (net new supply) series
The net new supply series is presented by the DLUHC as the primary and most comprehensive available new housing supply metric for England. This is for two primary reasons.
First, it includes additions and losses to the stock as well as new build completions, which can be higher or lower than net new supply, taking account of net additions or losses.
For example, between 1961 and 1980, as large-scale post war slum and redevelopment demolitions and clearances proceeded apace, net new supply lagged new build completion totals.
Conversely, across recent decades, as gains to the stock from net conversions and from net changes in use have progressively tended to exceed losses from demolitions, annual net new supply has exceeded new build completion totals.
Second, as the DLUHC technical notes on the series sets out, its method of compilation is more comprehensive and accurate.
LAs are required to take account of all the changes to the housing stock within their areas over the previous financial year before inputting them into – what is officially termed – a standardised housing flows reconciliation (HFR) form, and to submit that no later than the subsequent September. The Greater London Authority (GLA) collates similar information from the London boroughs.
Each LA, therefore, has up to five months from the end of the financial year to submit their annual HFR return, compared to the much shorter six-week submission period connected with the building control based quarterly new housebuilding series, considered later.
By having more time to reconcile diverse potential sources of completed new build activity, including from council tax, building control and other records, as well as site visits, LAs can consequently compile a more complete and comprehensive count of additions to their local stocks.
Each November successive to the preceding financial year, the DLUHC publishes a release and a set of accompanying live tables that together describe changes to England’s net supply position.
For example, the 2021 to 2022 annual statistical release published in November 2022 reported the net change that took place between 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022.
Live Table 118 reports total annual net additions for England, by region, since 2000-1.
Table 120, since 2006-2007, has broken down the different components of net supply to include:
- new build completions;
- net changes to the dwelling stock resulting from gains or losses, whether attributable to approved changes of planning use, to conversions, or from demolitions; and,
- from 2015-16 onwards, changes in use resulting from permitted development rights (PER’s).
Table 1 below provides a summary of the data provided in Table 120.
It confirms that net supply exceeded new build completions by c20,000 dwellings per annum between April 2006 and end March 2022.
More significantly, it shows the proneness of net new supply to fluctuate in a lagged response to the wider macro-economic and housing market conditions, with 2012-13 net supply (reflecting collapse of private speculative activity during and in the wake of the 2008-10 global financial recession), barely half of the level subsequently achieved during 2018-20.
It can be expected that annual net new supply could dip below 230,000 dwellings during the next few years in response to recent housing market uncertainty induced by rising post-covid inflation and interest rates.
Certainly, there is no immediate prospect of the 300,000-dwelling target – as the data shows is clearly aspirational and rhetorical rather than policy-led in nature – being even remotely approached.