FEWER homes are being built across Hampshire, official figures show – despite Government claims to have kick-started developments.
Just 930 new houses were started in the second quarter of this year, a fall of 25 per cent from the 1,250 that got under way in the same period last year.
They include only 50 homes that were started between April and June in Southampton – a drop from 170 over the same three-month period of 2013.
But Southampton City Council rejected suggestions of a fresh housebuilding crisis, insisting Southampton was on the verge of a boom with many developments in the pipeline.
A spokesman said: “Southampton City Council remains committed to helping to provide a new affordable home every day to help meet housing needs in the city.”
The Government was sharply criticised for axing many housing programmes when they came to power, triggering a dramatic drop in the number of homes built.
Meanwhile, local councils remain barred from borrowing money to build homes, as the Government relies on the private sector to step in.
The chronic shortage of housing is an issue rising up the political agenda, with hundreds of thousands of families languishing on council waiting lists.
The latest figures show other areas recording big drops in house starts including Eastleigh (from 130 to 80), Winchester (from 140 to 80) and the Isle of Wight (from 100 to 50).
But the trend is rosier in Fareham (up from ten to 90), Test Valley (up from 320 to 380) and Gosport (up from zero to 110).
The city council spokesman suggested Southampton’s figure was a blip, with planning permission granted to deliver 545 homes over the past year.
A total of 440 ‘affordable homes’ were on course to be completed in 2014-15, which would be the second highest number in the last decade.
The spokesman said: “Planning permissions normally last three years which means the developer can decide upon the most appropriate time to build these homes in that period.
“As a result, there is always an element of ebb and flow in development activity.
“The 59 homes scheme at the Chantry Hall site started earlier this month, along with recent work on the former Weston shopping parade and Erskine Court.”
The National Housing Federation criticised the absence of a “bold, long-term intervention” to dramatically boost housebuilding.
Rachel Fisher, its head of policy, said: “Politicians from all parties must look beyond the lifetime of the next parliament and commit to end the housing crisis in a generation.”
But Brandon Lewis, the housing minister, said: “Wherever you look across the housing market, the signs of progress are clear.”