The government has hailed new figures showing that house building activity in the UK has gone up recently.

Official data shows that in the 12 months to March, work commenced on 140,500 properties. This is five per cent higher than the amount recorded in the previous year.

Statistics also revealed that 125,110 homes were completed between April 2014 and March 2015. This is 11 per cent up on the previous 12 months and the highest figure in six years.

Brandon Lewis, the housing minister, said the data shows the government's efforts to stimulate house building are "reaping results".

However, he stressed that this momentum must be maintained if more people are to be given the chance to get on the housing ladder.

The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) has backed this view, but said momentum must not only be kept up, but accelerated.

Gavin Smart, deputy chief executive of the CIH, described the recent increase in housing starts and completions as "encouraging".

Nevertheless, he said the number of new homes being built is a little over half the amount that is needed to "keep up with our growing population and help the millions of people who are being priced out of a decent home".

Mr Smart insisted that the housing crisis in Britain can be solved within a generation. However, he said this can only happen if a "joined-up, long term strategy that focuses on getting new homes built" is created by policymakers.

He added that the CIH is "ready to work with the new government to put that kind of strategy into place, and we’re calling on them to publish it within a year of taking office".

Andrew Murray, head of housing and local government at Winckworth Sherwood, welcomed the news but added: “Although any increase in the supply of new homes should help alleviate the supply/demand imbalance, the most pressing housing issue in many parts of the country is the shortage of affordable homes.  The proposal in today’s Queen’s Speech to extend the right to buy to homes provided by housing associations, funded by selling off local authority homes, seems likely to undermine attempts to address this shortage.”