Housing supply and affordability statistics


Statistics on housing supply and affordable housing in England are published by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC). DLUHC publishes statistics on affordable housing supply, net additional dwellings (its most comprehensive measure of housing supply), indicators of new supply; and statistics from the English Housing Survey. DLUHC also publishes a Guide to DLUHC Housing statistics.

The Greater London Authority (GLA), which voluntarily applies the Code of Practice for Statistics, also publishes statistics on affordable housing starts and completions for London, which are included in DLUHC’s annual affordable housing supply statistics.

The Scottish Government publishes statistics on housing stock and new housebuilding, including on affordable housing supply, in its quarterly Housing Statistics and in the annual housing statistics key trends report.

The Welsh Government publishes statistics on new house building, estimates of the number of dwellings in Wales, social housing stock and rents data, and an Affordable Housing Provision in Wales annual release.

In Northern Ireland, the Department for Communities publishes the Northern Ireland Housing Statistics Report, which includes information on building starts and completions of social housing over time.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) also publishes time series data on starts and completions of new build dwellings in the UK and local authorities using the data published by each of the four UK countries. As it collates the data for each country and publishes for financial years, it isn’t necessarily the most recent published data for those countries that publish quarterly. ONS also publishes statistics on housing affordability.

The Valuation Office Agency publishes estimates of the stock of properties by Council Tax band and property attributes in England and Wales.

Things to consider in statements about housing supply and affordability:

Housing policy is devolved across the United Kingdom, and different policy approaches have been taken by each country to try and meet the housing needs of their individual populations. These differences are typically reflected in the statistics and data produced by each UK nation, which creates distinct barriers to making equivalent comparisons between countries in many areas.

There is no statutory definition of affordable housing. As housing policy is devolved, the definitions of affordable housing and associated terminology differ between the four countries of the UK, meaning that the data cannot be easily compared. Each part of the UK has developed a range of housing products aimed at households who cannot access or afford market housing, some of which are known under the banner of ‘affordable housing’. This includes both rental and ownership schemes.

‘Affordable housing’ is not the same as the ‘affordability of housing’, which describes the affordability of housing costs in relation to household incomes or resources. Therefore, statistics on affordable housing and affordability of housing also differ since they measure different concepts.

DLUHC produce two measures of housing supply, Housing supply: indicators of new supply and Housing supply: net additional dwellings. The Net additional dwellings publication is the most comprehensive and typically used for policy setting, while the Indicators of new supply publication is a timelier, though less complete indicator.

When talking about housebuilding, it is essential to use the right definitions – especially in regard to house building ‘starts’ and ‘completions.’ Trends in ‘building control starts’ are often quoted on their own, as starts are the early indicator of future building completions and that may be sufficient for the context. But there are limitations as a building can be started but not be completed for years, or even not at all. There are two different metrics for new build ‘completions’ – ‘building control completions’ and the ‘net additions new build component’ which is a better measure of completions. Official figures on starts and completions are published together and when used in public debate for a given period, it is helpful for both to be quoted together to provide broader context.

What to look out for when hearing statements on this topic:

Claims about government records on housebuilding over set periods. Given how long it takes for housing developments to go through planning and development and to reach eventual completion, it could be argued that the start of any period in office will inevitably reflect some of the historical record of a predecessor. This time lag presents challenges for measuring the housebuilding records of governments or politicians, and it can be seen as misleading to attribute too much responsibility for the houses built or those not started or completed from the start of a politicians or party’s term in office.

Definitions of ‘affordable housing’ and ‘social housing’ overlap substantially in England and can be used interchangeably in some cases. Social rented housing is developed with an element of government subsidy and let at sub-market rents by local authorities or housing associations. ‘For Intermediate rent’ or ‘affordable rent,’ social landlords offer tenancies at rents of up to 80% of market rent levels within the local area. However, while ‘affordable rent’ and ‘social rent’ are distinct (with the former usually being more expensive) both are considered tenures of affordable housing and social housing. Council housing’ is a subset of ‘social housing’ where the housing is owned by the local authority. However, many local authorities increasingly do not own the local social housing stock themselves. The varying definitions and uses of these terms cause confusion for the public about what will be included in affordable housing and social housing statistics.

Direct reference to high house building starts in Q2 2023 or low starts in 2023 Q3 and Q4, or comparisons using these quarters. Many house builders brought forward the start of works to avoid the costs of complying with new building regulatory standards in England relating to energy performance and electric vehicle charging points, causing an unusually high peak in starts in 2023 Q2, and corresponding low levels in 2023 Q3 and Q4. This makes it difficult to assess the underlying trend in starts this quarter and so it is not advised to draw conclusions from comparing this quarter directly with other quarters. Annual figures or comparisons using them should be unaffected.

Wider support

The Government Statistical Service (GSS) has completed extensive work documenting sources of housing official statistics produced across the UK in an accessible form for users. Other support available from the GSS and Analysis Function includes:

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