The Scottish Government is ahead of its five-year target to deliver 30,000 affordable homes by March 2016, despite a decrease in the number of social sector homes being built.

New statistics have revealed that a total of 3,353 social sector homes were completed in the year to end December, a decrease of 24 per cent (1,050 homes) on the previous year.

However, taken over a four year period from 2011-12, a total of 26,972 affordable homes have been delivered as part of the Affordable Housing Supply Programme – 90 per cent of the Scottish Government target. This includes 18,670 homes for social rent – 93 per cent of the social rent target.

Total completions under the Affordable Housing Supply Programme, which reflects a broader supply of affordable homes, increased by 1 per cent to 7,069 homes in the 2014/15 financial year.

Overall 15,541 homes were completed in the full year to end December 2014, 4 per cent (657 homes) more than the 14,884 completions in the previous year, however this was largely accounted for by a sharp increase in private-led new build homes.

A total of 12,188 private-led new build homes were completed in the year to end December 2014, an increase of 16 per cent (1,707 homes) on the previous year.

Housing minister Margaret Burgess said the figures show the Scottish Government is on track to reach its 2016 affordable homes target.

She said: “Housing is at the heart of the Scottish Government’s ambitions to create a fairer and more prosperous country and the supply of affordable housing is a key priority. I’m delighted to say we are well on track to meeting our five year target of 30,000 new homes by 2016.

“The figures for the first quarter to the end of March 2015 are positive and we will work with partners to deliver our target of 30,000 affordable homes across Scotland by next year.

“In addition, we will continue to work closely with the housing sector to support the construction of new homes across all tenures, supporting jobs in the construction industry and wider economy, and helping to strengthen communities, promote social justice and tackle inequality.”

Adam Lang, head of communications and policy at Shelter Scotland, said: “It is good news that more houses are being built across Scotland and that the Scottish Government is ahead of its targets.

“However, the completion of 4,221 new socially rented homes in the last year is still far below the number needed to meet demand.

“With 150,500 households on council waiting lists for a home of their own, 10,000 new homes for social rent are needed each year if we are to meaningfully tackle Scotland’s housing crisis.”

Homes for Scotland said the hugely successful Help to Buy (Scotland) shared equity scheme is the catalyst behind the increase in private sector home building.

The trade body also pointed to a 22 per cent rise in the number of new homes built since 2012, the year before the scheme was introduced.

Chief executive Philip Hogg said: “Having already resulted in 5000 sales and now proven to have significantly increased housing production, the impact of Help to Buy (Scotland) is obvious for all to see.

“Not only has it stimulated the building of much needed new housing and helped people meet their aspirations to own their own home, it has also channelled investment to Scotland, supporting vital jobs and boosting the wider economy.

“Disappointingly, however, with demand resulting in early closure of the main scheme just last week and no announcement on further support forthcoming from the Scottish Government, we now seem to be at risk of letting the opportunity to build on its success pass us by rather than capitalising on the wide-ranging social and economic benefits it has to offer.

“There is still a long way to go in addressing our country’s housing crisis but in order to harness the potential that Help to Buy (Scotland) has already demonstrated and maintain this momentum, we hope the Scottish Government acts on this clear evidence of success and provides an early signal on its intentions for a successor scheme from April 2016.”

Ed Monaghan, chief executive of Mactaggart & Mickel Group called for further action to maintain the upward trajectory.

He said: “The statistics released by the Scottish Government today showing a continued rise in new build completions are welcome news for the industry and can be attributed to the increasing investment from the private sector. This boost in consumer confidence can be linked to initiatives that stimulate the market such as Help to Buy (Scotland).

“This rare housing policy success has not only helped those in most need, it has also driven the industry on an upward trajectory. However now that the H2B scheme has come to an end in Scotland, more needs to be done to ensure the industry continues to prosper. It’s important that we continue to encourage growth in the construction industry by offering housebuilder led assistance initiatives, boosting skilled employment and also through partnership working on innovative programmes in which the public sector has a vital role to play.”

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Source: Scottish Housing News

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