Rise in number of new homes built
There have been sharp increases in the number of new homes being started and finished in England compared with a year ago, according to new figures.
The Department for Communities and Local Government said about 37,080 new homes were started in the last quarter of 2015, up 23% on the previous year.
Completions were up by 22% to 37,230.
Ministers said they had "got the country building again" but housing charity Shelter said the increase was "not good enough".
In the year up to December, 143,560 new homes were started, which was up by 6% on 2014 - 22% below 2007's peak but 91% up on the slump recorded in 2009.
Homes built by private developers were up by 8% but those built by housing associations down by 1%.
The report said the highest completion rates were found in a band starting to the north of the London green belt, running through Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire and Leicestershire, with strong completion levels also around Devon and Gloucestershire in the South West.
Areas with the lowest completion rates include Kingston upon Thames, Southend-on-Sea and Gravesham, it said.
Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said the amount of new homes completed had hit a "seven-year high", adding: "However we're not complacent.
"That's why we've set out the most ambitious housing vision for more than a generation, doubling the housing budget so we can meet our ambition of delivering a million new homes."
But Labour's housing spokesman John Healey said the total was "still falling far short of what the country needs".
"Ministers have talked up the economic recovery, but these figures show that there were more than 20% fewer new homes started last year than before the global financial crisis," he said.
Shelter's chief executive Campbell Robb said only half the number of homes needed were being built.