The government's most publicised measure of housebuilding excludes around a fifth of all new build completions each year, according to a new report from the Home Builders Federation (HBF).
'Ghost Towns' claims that flawed methodology means around 30,000 new builds – equivalent to a town the size of Stevenage – are not counted in the official numbers released on a quarterly and annual basis by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG).
The HBF's analysis of official housebuilding statistics claims the DCLG under-reports new build completions in 75% of local authorities – at an average of 153 'lost' homes in each location.
The report suggests that more than half of new build homes in Birmingham, Liverpool, Leicester, Salford and many London boroughs are unaccounted for in the quarterly statistics.
The HBF says that the housebuilding industry is 'rapidly increasing output', largely down to some significant government policy successes and that it is therefore disappointing that the shortfall gives critics 'the ammunition to criticise'.
"Housebuilding has increased significantly in recent years but the continual publication and use of inaccurate statistics is painting a negative picture that is undermining the progress being made in tackling the housing shortage," says Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the HBF.
"The Government's housing policies and the industry are delivering, and it is incredibly frustrating that official statistics are not reflecting what is happening on the ground but instead presenting an open goal for critics."
The report suggests that the government's published data has excluded:
- At least 75% of the London Boroughs of Brent, Wandsworth, Hammersmith and Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea
- 1,280 new homes in Birmingham (two-thirds of all new build completions)
- 920 new homes in Liverpool (63% of all new build completions)
- 640 new homes in Salford (half of all new build completions)
- 570 new homes in Leicester (6 out of 10 new build completions)
- 570 new homes in Sheffield (40% of all new build completions)
- 400 new homes in Chester West & Chester (29% of all new build completions)