§ Mr. Stallard
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what progress has been made in arresting the decline in house building; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Freeson
Public sector housbuilding in Great Britain is now on an upward trend. About 54,000 dwellings were started by local authorities, new towns and the SSHA in the first five months of this year, 25 per cent. more than in the corresponding period last year. Approvals increased from 39,000 to 45,000 in the first five months of 1974 compared to the same period of 1973, as compared with about 95,000 approvals for housing starts in 1974 provided for in the Public Expenditure Survey White Paper (Cmnd. 5519) published last December. We now estimate that the number will be 130,000.
The rate of private sector starts which reached a peak in late 1972 and early 1973 fell rapidly until early this year but figures for recent months suggest that this decline has been checked. The increase in building society commitments in May and again in June aided by the Government loans should lead to some recovery in private completions in the coming months.