New figures show a "rapid and dramatic" increase in the number of affordable houses being built across the UK, according to government Housing Minister Grant Shapps.

The figures, published yesterday by the Homes & Communities Agency, show that affordable housing starts in the six months to March 2012 were up by nearly 15,000, compared to the first half of the last financial year.

At the same time, the numbers of affordable homes for rent and affordable home ownership completed in the 12 months to March stood at over 51,000.

Shapps said: "Far from the predictions of the doom merchants, today's figures show work has started on over 15,000 new affordable homes since last September – a massive increase on the previous six-month period. This is clear evidence that our efforts to get Britain building are starting to yield impressive results.

"I am also impressed at how, as we've moved to our new housebuilding programme, developers up and down the country have taken up the exciting opportunity to build thousands of new affordable homes. This rapid and dramatic progress means that we are well on track to exceed all original expectations and deliver up to 170,000 new affordable homes over the next few years.

"But even with the need to cut the record deficit we inherited, I'm clear there's still more to do. That's why on top of the £4.5 billion we're investing in affordable homes, we're also spending £1.3 billion to get stalled developments back on track and to build the infrastructure needed to unlock sites for housing."

The figures released detailed the number of homes delivered under: the Accelerated Land Disposal Programme; the 2011-15 Affordable Homes Programme (including the Affordable Homes Programme, Empty Homes, Homelessness Change and Traveller Pitch Funding); the Economic Assets Programme; FirstBuy; the Kickstart Housing Delivery Programme; the Local Authority New Build Programme; Mortgage Rescue; the National Affordable Housing Programme; and the Property & Regeneration Programme.

These schemes are all managed by the Homes & Communities Agency (HCA) in England.

The majority (15,698 or 79%) of the housing starts on site were for affordable homes of which 11,130 were for affordable rent, 1,048 for social rent, 72 for intermediate rent and 3,448 for affordable home ownership.

The HCA’s London operating area delivered 28% of these starts, while 21% were in the South and South West, 17% in the Midlands and 13% in the East and South East. The new 2011-15 Affordable Homes Programme commenced delivery in the second half of the year and accounted for 90% of the affordable homes started in 2011/12.

The full National Housing Statistics can be found online at