New affordable home completions up 19 per cent

Lovell generic housebuilding imageThe number of affordable homes delivered by the end of December 2015 rose by 19 per cent on the previous year, officials figures have confirmed.

A quarterly statistical publication from the Scottish Government confirmed that the government’s 30,000 affordable homes target was surpassed during the period, delivering 31,034 homes including almost 21,000 for social rent, of which almost 5,500 were council homes.

The statistics also revealed that the number of homes across all sectors completed in the year to September 2015 has increased by four per cent compared to the previous year.

The 16,000 homes included 12,125 private led completions (two per cent higher than the previous year), 2,828 housing association completions (10 per cent higher) and 1,051 local authority completions (seven per cent higher than the previous year).

A total of 17,360 new build homes were started over the year to September 2015, a nine per cent increase on the previous year. This increase was mostly driven by a 10 per cent increase in starts in the private sector, as well as a six per cent increase in the social sector.

The homes completed in Scotland in the year ending September 2015 equates to a rate of 30 homes per 10,000 people in Scotland compared to 25 in England, 21 in Wales, and 28 in Northern Ireland.

Housing minister Margaret Burgess said: “As these positive figures illustrate, our increased investment in house building has helped stimulate a welcome rise in completions across all types of homes.

“This is a team effort; we will continue to work with all sectors to promote the building of new homes and support jobs in the construction industry.

“We have a strong record on housing, having exceeded our target of delivering 30,000 affordable homes in this Parliamentary term.

“Over the next five years we have committed to delivering at least 50,000 affordable homes, which represents a 67 per cent increase on our current target, backed up with investment of more than £3 billion.”

Annie Mauger, director at the Chartered Institute of Housing in Scotland, said: “We strongly welcome a significant rise in the number of affordable new homes delivered in Scotland during 2015, up by almost 450 units to 3,800.

“With all political parties making strong commitments on the delivery of affordable homes during the next Scottish Parliament, housing will be a hot topic of debate during the forthcoming Scottish Parliament election campaign. We welcome the fact that the housing issue remains high on the political agenda.

“Our Agenda for Change which we published earlier this month sets out some practical recommendations to ensure that ambitious targets on housing can be met. We look forward to continuing to debate the key issues around housing policy as we approach the election on the 5th May.”

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, added: “While we welcome the news of a rise in the number of homes completed – particularly those from housing associations and local authorities - it still falls well short of meeting the level of demand.

“Today in Scotland 150,000 families and individuals are on council waiting lists for a home. We hear every day from households who are desperate for a home of their own. Sadly, some have been waiting for years, with no end in sight.

“The Scottish Government is not yet delivering the number of homes needed to match demand for affordable housing and more must be done.

“To meaningfully tackle current and future demand for affordable housing the Scottish Government must embark on a major step-change in new house building, with a commitment to build at least 12,000 new affordable homes each year for the next five years.”

Trade body Homes for Scotland said the increase is a positive signal for growth but cautioned that there is still a long way to go if the country is to see the numbers required to properly meet the diverse needs and aspirations of its growing population.

With the Scottish Government highlighting that an annual nine per cent rise in the total number of starts was mostly driven by private sector-led activity, chief executive Nicola Barclay pointed to the vital role that the hugely successful Help to Buy shared equity scheme has to play in building on this momentum to deliver more homes and jobs.

She said: “With an all-tenure approach crucial to effectively tackling Scotland’s chronic undersupply of housing, these latest statistics indicating that all sectors have shown increases in completions over the last year are welcome.

“However, we are still some way off our manifesto call for 10 per cent year-on-year growth to address the backlog of demand and there are a number of uncertainties in the market including the impact of the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT), the ongoing planning review and more restrictive criteria for Help to Buy going forward.”

Ed Monaghan, chief executive of Mactaggart & Mickel Group, said the figures are welcome news for the industry, especially during a time of change and uncertainty.

He added: “With house prices and sales also on the increase, it marked a buoyant end to 2015 which we as a business have seen continue into the first quarter of 2016 in terms of footfall and reservations. The New Year and launch of the latest tranche of Help to Buy (Scotland) funding in January will hopefully continue to drive the market.

“We will, however, be continuing to monitor the impact of Land and Building Transaction Tax on the sale of top tier properties.”

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