CIH Scotland warns against complacency in meeting 50,000 homes target

CIH Scotland has warned that there should be “no room for complacency” about meeting the Scottish Government’s target of delivering 50,000 new affordable homes by 2021 as it unveiled key findings from its annual UK Housing Review.

On the key issue of housing supply, the report outlines a “mixed picture” towards meeting the affordable homes target. While there was a rise in the number of new affordable homes delivered during the first year of the target period, the report highlights a slowdown in completion rates during the second and third quarters of 2017. This downward trend in completions has been more recently underlined by the latest Scottish housing statistics, published on March 13, which show a 12% decline in the number of new social sector homes completed in 2017 compared to 2016.

The report concludes that “any failure to achieve the 50,000 target will not be for lack of funding”. But it raises concerns about the sector’s ability to deliver on the target, pointing out that “performance over the first 18 months has been modest, albeit it will take time to gear up to the new output levels”.

Key topics considered by the review also include trends in affordability of housing for first time buyers and the extent to which the planning system has hampered the delivery of new homes. In both areas, the report concludes that the general picture in Scotland is significantly better than elsewhere in the UK.

The review indicates that, following the post-2008 recession, house price affordability has settled back to close to a long run average in Scotland whereas affordability across the UK as a whole remains significantly worse than in 1994 when current measurement began.

It also indicates that 84% of homes with detailed planning permission have been successfully built out over the ten year period to 2016-17 in Scotland compared to just 59% in England, equivalent to a shortfall of more than 1 million new homes south of the border.

The report also acknowledges sharp falls in homelessness in Scotland and recent legislative changes strengthening the security of tenure in the private rented sector, which it says will protect more people from losing their homes.

CIH Scotland deputy director, Callum Chomczuk, said: “Drawing a direct comparison with other parts of the UK, Scotland can demonstrate encouraging performance in key areas such as house price affordability and tackling homelessness. The Scottish Government has also given a welcome financial commitment with regards to funding 50,000 new affordable homes over the lifetime of the current Scottish Parliament.

“At the same time, the latest quarterly housing statistics for Scotland reinforce concerns about the sector’s capacity to meet that ambitious target. Indeed, the number of new social sector homes completed in 2017 actually fell by 12% compared to the previous year.

“As such, there should be no room for complacency. Working in partnership with the Scottish Government, I know that our members across Scotland will continue their efforts to achieve a continuously improving picture for Scottish housing in the year ahead and beyond.”