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Public housing slump continues

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Public sector housing construction remains in the doldrums despite an upturn in the market overall, according to a survey by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.

The latest RICS Construction Market Survey found that public housing works fell by nearly 10% in January to March 2011, while total construction workloads increased by 5%.

The survey revealed that private housing and private commercial reported increases of 8% and 17% respectively.

The survey found that while the private housing sector saw a “welcome hike in activity … public housing and public non-housing sectors continued to be the hardest hit, with net balances in both sectors remaining in negative territory”.

The survey added: ‘There is a divergence sectorally, with private housing and private commercial leading the recovery with rising workloads and public sector works continuing to decline.’

The survey also found significant geographical differences, with London and the south-east of England seeing rises of 6% and 24% respectively, but declines in the north of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile, the latest national housing statistics for England showed there were just over 29,000 housebuilding starts in the first quarter of 2011, an increase of 26% compared with the previous quarter, and the highest quarterly figure for almost three years.

The figures showed that private housing starts were 24% than in the December quarter 2010, with starts by housing associations 37% higher than the previous quarter.

Housing minister Grant Shapps said the new figures showed the country was starting to build homes again, following the collapse in construction during the economic downturn.

He said: “Today’s figures are welcome, but they are only the start of the story. I’m determined that there should be no slowing down on the road to recovery.”


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