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House building plummets in the UK

New government data has highlighted a considerable slump in the number of new homes projects getting underway in the UK over recent months.

Figures published by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) revealed the number of new housing starts dropped below 100,000 last year - a ten per cent fall on 2011 and now less than two-fifths of the amount required to effectively tackle the country's ongoing housing crisis.

Chief economist for architect and development body the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) Simon Rubinsohn said: "These figures demonstrate the scale of the problem facing the country in delivering sufficient homes to accommodate a rising population.

"Notwithstanding this, Rics expect the volume of activity to increase over the coming quarters helped by some of the measures introduced by government."

He added that the imbalance between supply and demand is continuing to underpin the relative high cost of housing in the UK.

Overall, the DCLG's figures showed private housing starts were down eight per cent last year, while housing association starts slumped by a significant 23 per cent.

In total, the 98,280 registered starts last year was less than half of the forecast 230,000 that analysts believe is needed to tackle the housing crisis.

The news follows a recent announcement by planning minister Mark Boles, in which he unveiled grants of up to £17 million are to be offered to communities across the country that actively pursue new housing projects in their area.

Enacted as part of the new Localism Act, the plans include a cash back scheme that will entitle local authorities to claim up to £50,000 per case to be put towards improving local amenities and facilities for residents.

More than 300 communities are already benefiting from the additional powers granted to councils as part of the Localism Act, including a stronger say in where and how new developments take place. 

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