Scotland hits 100,000 affordable homes milestone but Covid hits recent completions

Housing secretary Shona Robison has hailed new statistics which show that Scotland has delivered more than 100,000 affordable homes since 2007 as a major milestone on the path to a fairer, more equal nation.

Shona Robison

Published today, the housing statistics quarterly update for June 2021 reveal that 102,055 affordable homes have been delivered since April 2007, with 70,866 of these for social rent.

According to the figures, Scotland delivered over 75% more affordable homes per head of population than both England and Wales in the four years to 2019-20, and over nine times more social rented homes per head than in England during the same period.

As expected, however, decreases in new home completions compared to previous years were apparent with activity levels being affected by the introduction of coronavirus lockdown measures in mid-March to late June 2020

There were 17,029 new-build homes completed across all sectors in Scotland in the year to end June 2020. This is a decrease of 21% (4,439 homes) on the previous year. Decreases were seen across private-led completions (23%, or 3,725 homes), housing association completions (8%, or 340 homes) and local authority completions (26%, or 374 homes).

The number of new-build homes started across all sectors also decreased in the year to end June 2020, with a total of 20,248 starts, a decrease of 14% (3,194 homes) on the previous year. Private-led starts decreased by 25% (4,221 homes) and local authority starts decreased by 9% (162 homes), while housing association approvals increased by 26% (1,189 homes).

More up-to-date figures published as part of the UK House Price Index show a total of 3,053 private new-build sales transactions in Scotland between October and December 2020. This is an increase of 645 (27%) on the 2,408 transactions recorded between July and September 2020, and an increase of 2,340 (over four times higher) on the 713 transactions seen between April and June 2020, reflecting the phased restart of construction activity since late June 2020.

Despite these increases, the number of private new-build sales transactions decreased by 754 (20%) compared with the same quarter in the previous year. This brings the total number of transactions in the year to end December 2020 to 8,559, a decrease of 30% (3,707 transactions) on the 12,266 transactions recorded in 2019.

The latest social-sector new housebuilding figures show that 971 social sector homes were completed between July and September 2020. This is an increase of 937 homes on the previous quarter, when housebuilding activity was largely paused due to lockdown measures, but a decrease of 25% (329 homes) on the 1,300 completions in the same quarter in 2019. This brings the total number of completions for the year to end September 2020 to 4,402, a decrease of 18% (999 homes) on the 5,401 social sector homes completed in the previous year.

There were 3,160 affordable homes completed between January and March 2021, an increase of 1,226 (63%) homes on the previous quarter, and an increase of 2,963 homes on the April to June 2020 period, reflecting the phased restart of supply activity since late June 2020. The 3,160 homes completed between January and March 2021 equates to 90% of the level of affordable housing delivery in the same quarter of the previous year.

This brings the total number of affordable homes completed in the year to end March 2021 to 6,466, a decrease of 30% (2,830 homes) on the 9,296 affordable homes completed in the previous year. Over the same period, approvals have decreased by 39% (5,004 homes) to 7,882, and starts have dropped by 15% (1,846 homes) to 10,199.

Despite the decreases, housing secretary Shona Robison said the delivery of 100,000 affordable is still a “remarkable achievement”.

“Today’s statistics tell the story of more than 100,000 households being given access to high-quality, affordable homes – whether they be for social rent or people owning a home for the first time,” she said. “I would like to thank registered social landlords, local authorities, the construction sector and our other partners for helping us hit this significant milestone.”

Ms Robison added: “Scotland has been leading the way across the UK with delivery of affordable housing, but we know there is more to do to ensure everyone has a warm, affordable home that meets their needs in a vibrant, safe community.

“Our utmost priority over the past year has been to keep Scotland safe from coronavirus, and this has meant placing restrictions on construction or at times stopping it altogether. While this has affected our ability to meet our target of delivering 50,000 affordable homes over the last parliamentary period, we are continuing to work closely with partners across the housing sector to deliver the remaining homes as quickly as it is safe to do so.

“We will then deliver a further 100,000 homes by 2032, with at least 70% of these for social rent. This is just one of the actions set out in our Housing to 2040 strategy for building a fairer, more equal housing sector, alongside taking steps to tackle high rents in the private sector, setting a single set of standards for housing quality and accessibility, and continuing our work to end homelessness and rough sleeping once and for all.”