Housing building starts in England fell for the first time in over two years in the three months to September.
The jitter in housing starts comes after many major house builders warned several months ago that demand among buyers had eased to more traditional levels after a strong Help to Buy surge.
This now appears to have translated into a fall in house building starts in the quarter to 33,000, around 3,500 fewer that the April-June period The activity level is just 1% up on the same period a year ago.
Public sector starts and registrations have been on the wane for several months as the Government funding period draws to a close. But the latest figures show both private (-8%) and public (-22%) housing sectors were down.
On the current trend house building activity looks to have peaked in the first half of the year at around 36,000 homes a quarter, well below Government targets.
Starts are now running a third below their March quarter 2007 peak.
Overall annual housing starts totalled 138,640 in the 12 months to September 2014, up by 16% compared with the year but worrying low for the build market to have peaked.
The picture for completions was brighter with the September quarter recording 31,130, up 5% on the previous quarter and 8% up on a year ago.
Persimmon Homes has launched a recruitment drive to bring up to 500 ex-military personnel to fill the skills gap in bricklayers and sales.
The house builder, which employs around 3,500 staff across its 24 regional businesses, is working with Nordic Focus Training to retrain people from the Army, Royal Navy and RAF in bricklaying and joinery.
Group CEO, Jeff Fairburn, said: “We have worked hard over the course of 2014 to develop this programme to help us meet a shortage of much needed skilled tradesmen across the UK.
“Earlier this year we appointed a dedicated ex-military resettlement specialist, Tommy Watson, to spearhead the programme and we began welcoming the first of our new employees at the start of October.
“We are already on course to bring 500 new people into the business in 2015 and if our growth continues, we will repeat this in 2016.
Alongside trainee bricklayers and joiners, the company is also directly employing other staff with a military background into sales and management roles.
He added: “The new recruits are all starting on an 18 month training programme with time spent in the classroom and out on site.
“We are very excited with the quality of the candidates and some of them I’m sure will go on to take management positions within the business in the future.”
Persimmon will build over 13,000 new homes in 2014 and plans to open many more developments in 2015.
Britain biggest house builder is on course to deliver 15,000 completions by June 2015.
Mark Clare, Group Chief Executive, said Barratt was raising its site opening rate as the market remained strong across the country.
Barratt has launched 80 new developments since July and expects to be operating from around 400 by June 2015, compared to 366 last June.
Clare said: "We are on track to see another significant improvement in performance by continuing to focus on delivering high quality, well-designed homes in places where people want to live.
“Our disciplined approach to investment in new sites is underpinning our confidence that by 2017 we can deliver at least a 20% gross margin and a minimum return on capital of 25%."
Reporting on the 19-week period from July 1 to November 9, Barratt said that it continued to see high levels of customer interest and demand across the country.
The house builder’s net private reservations per active site per week were slightly down on the equivalent period of last year, at 0.63 against 0.71 a year ago when Help to Buy stimulated a buying surge.
Private forward sales rose 11.9% to £1.26bn against 2013, equating to 4,845 plots, 331 up on last year.
Clare said the land market remained attractive across all regions and Barratt had replenished its land bank to 4.7 years of owned and conditionally contracted land.
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