Housing statistics ‘a stark reminder’ of importance of stable investment

Mary Taylor
Mary Taylor

The publication of the latest housing statistics for Scotland has highlighted that only stability in housing investment will increase the supply of affordable homes, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) has said.

Commenting after yesterday’s publication of the Housing Statistics for Scotland 2016: Key Trends and the Quarterly Housing Statistics, the SFHA said it is pleased the Scottish Government has reinstated “a more realistic rate of investment” in order to meet the affordable housing need across Scotland.

According to the figures, 2,320 housing association new builds were completed in 2015/16, the lowest level of completions since 1999/00.

Housing association rate of new build completions and new build approvals since 2008–09
Housing association rate of new build completions and new build approvals since 2008–09

Looking forward, completions will improve, as the number of new build approvals in 2015/16 was 2,906, an increase of around 10 per cent on 2014/15. Future figures for completions should show further increases as more projects are being approved now.

Mary Taylor, chief executive of the SFHA, said: “These figures are a stark reminder of the importance of stable investment in housing. The lowest level of housing association completions in almost 15 years shows the damage that was done when the volume and rate of investment were drastically reduced by the Scottish Government some years ago.

“SFHA is pleased the Scottish Government listened to our case for investment and reinstated a more realistic rate of investment in affordable housing to meet the need of 50,000 households across Scotland. A stable programme of investment – in terms of total budget available and per unit rate of investment – is the only way to increase affordable housing supply.”

Mary Taylor added: “However, there are other challenges ahead for housing associations due to the UK Government’s welfare reform agenda such as the capping of Housing Benefit to Local Housing Allowance (LHA) levels. This policy, which is due to begin next year, could seriously threaten landlords’ financial security and therefore their ability to develop.

“We will continue to campaign on behalf of our members and their tenants against the damaging LHA cap.”

Releasing the statistics yesterday before MSPs debated the levels of investment for more homes at Holyrood, housing minister Kevin Stewart said the figures show good early progress towards delivering the Scottish Government’s target of delivering 50,000 affordable homes over the next five years.

However industry body Homes for Scotland said it was “disappointed” after the figures revealed 15,854 residential properties were completed in 2015/16, a two per cent fall on the previous year.

Karen Campbell
Karen Campbell

Karen Campbell, director of policy at Homes for Scotland, said: “On this important day of discussion on our country’s housing crisis, the Scottish Government has pointed to the ‘stability’ in new supply when figures actually show a decline.

“The simple fact is that whilst Scotland’s population has increased to its highest ever level, the supply of housing continues to lag ever further behind.

“This is hugely disappointing news for all those looking for a new home and will place further pressure on rents and house prices as demand continues to grow.

“We want to see a return to pre-recession levels of building around 25,000 new homes a year by the end of this parliament which requires a year-on-year increase of at least ten per cent. We all have a valuable part to play in achieving this if we are to meet the diverse needs, aspirations and life journeys of all those living in Scotland.”

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