A total of 22,590 new homes were built in Britain last year, an increase of 23 percent on the previous year, official figures showed Thursday. The figure is the highest since 2007. The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said: "Despite the poor weather conditions this winter, work on new homes in the last 3 months of 2013 was also up by 23 percent compared to the same period in 2012." Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said, "Fixing the housing market was an essential part of the government's long-term economic plan. That means an increase in small firms benefiting from the surge in construction orders, and more business confidence in the economy." The government is prioritizing limited financial resources and ensuring progress continues to be made across the whole housing market, he pointed out. According to figures released by the DCLG, since 2011 almost 58,000 households have been helped onto the housing ladder, with over 38,000 in new build properties through Help to Buy and earlier schemes. Meanwhile, almost 100,000 affordable homes have been delivered through the affordable homes program, which is on track to deliver 170,000 new homes by 2015. Construction orders are growing at their fastest rate for 10 years, providing a boost to thousands of small businesses that supply building materials to developers. Almost a million independent firms are involved in the construction industry, accounting for 20 percent of all small and medium-sized companies A new research by the Construction Industry Training Board predicted 182,000 construction jobs would be created over the next five years.