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Housing starts on the rise

New housing starts continue to rise across the UK, providing evidence for the government's claim that it is getting Britain building.According to the latest statistics, there were 36,230 new housing starts in England between April and June -  an increase of 18 per cent on the same quarter last year.Over the past 12 months, the number of new starts has risen by 22 per cent on the previous year's figure, reaching 137,780 - the highest level of housebuilding since 2007.Help to Buy continues to have a positive impact on construction activity, with over 40,000 households purchasing a property through the scheme and 80 per cent of sales going to first-time buyers.The government also claims reforms to the planning system have helped to boost the rate of construction, with successful applications for major housing schemes up 23 per cent last year. In addition, planning permissions were granted for 216,000 new homes.Right to Buy sales have been rising, with 2,845 council-owned properties sold between April and June - a 31 per cent increase on last year. This brings the overall number of properties sold under the reinvigorated Right to Buy to nearly 22,500.Receipts from the initiative are being used to boost the construction of new homes. Councils received £211 million last quarter and began work on 675 new homes, bringing the total number of replacement properties begun to almost 3,700.Housing minister Brandon Lewis said the success achieved in the sector "bears testament to our efforts to reform the planning system and help homebuyers while paving the way for house builders to boost their output." "But there's still more to do and improving the housing market will remain a vital part of our long-term economic plan," he added.The construction sector has been growing for 15 consecutive months and firms are hiring new workers as the fastest rate since 1997. 

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