The Government is facing a significant setback in its ambitious plans to build millions more homes in England as a result of the looming housing market slump. Daily Telegraph

Leading housebuilders have warned that build rates will decline this year and next, despite the Prime Minister’s urgent call for an increase.

Ian Robertson, chief executive of Wilson Bowden until it was sold last year and now an industry consultant, said: “My expectations will be that overall volumes fall this year. Housebuilders will rein back their build targets. They will rein back their land buying.”

Gordon Brown has placed housing among his top priorities, with a target of increasing the annual build rate in England from 160,761 in 2006 to 240,000 in 2016. However, the number of new constructions begun in the first nine months of last year fell by 4.9pc, according to official figures.