Page last updated at 14:20 GMT, Wednesday, 20 August 2008 15:20 UK

Revenue withdraws house sale data

For Sale sign
Official figures on house sales may be wrong

The government's official statistics on property sales in the UK have been withdrawn from publication because they appear to be wrong.

The figures are published each month by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) for sales worth more than 40,000.

HMRC said that revisions to the previous months' figures, going back to March this year, had cast doubt on their accuracy.

Figures for July were due to come out on Thursday, but have been postponed.

"Outputs obtained whilst updating the monthly series contained some significant and unexplained differences with the statistics published last month," it said.

"All months in the statistical series are affected, with the differences showing falls in some months and increases in others," it added.

"Our statisticians have come to the conclusion that something doesn't look quite right," explained an HMRC spokeswoman.

Sudden slump

June's figures appeared to show that property sales had fallen that month to just 77,000.

That was a 45% drop from the same month last year, when 140,000 properties were sold.

This chimed closely with many other figures, which show that the market has gone through a sudden slump this year because of the credit crunch.

For instance, the most recent report from the Land Registry for England & Wales showed that sales in April were down by 39% over the previous 12 months.

The number of mortgages approved by lenders for house purchase was down by 69% in June, according to the Bank of England.

The HMRC house sales data which had been due out on Thursday will now be published on 21 September.

In May, another government agency, the Office for National Statistics (ONS), admitted publishing erroneous pension statistics.

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