New build housing completions up but ‘stable levels of investment still required’

construction stockAlmost 16,000 new homes were built in the 12 months leading up to June 2016, an increase of four per cent on the same period the previous year, according to new figures.

Quarterly housing statistics released yesterday by the Scottish Government found that there were 15,991 new build homes completed in the last year, an increase of 591 homes on the previous 12 months.

There were increases in the number of new homes completed in the private sector (up by 537), housing association houses (up by 46), and local authority new builds (up by eight), compared to the previous year.

The figures also revealed that new build starts over the year (16,450) decreased by 681 homes (4 per cent) on the 17,131 starts in the previous year.

There were increases in the number of housing association approvals (up by 418 homes or 16 per cent) and local authority starts (up by 334 homes or 26 per cent), whilst private-led new build starts decreased by 1,433 homes (11 per cent), when compared to the previous year.

housing stats Dec 2016The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) said that while the figures are promising, stable levels of investment will be required in order to meet the Scottish Government’s 50,000 affordable homes target.

SFHA chief executive, Mary Taylor, said: “(These) figures show that the process of increasing housing supply is picking up slowly. Housing association completions are down, but we are pleased to see that starts and approvals have increased which should increase future completions statistics and help deliver the Scottish Government’s 50,000 affordable homes target. This reflects the fact that housing grant rates were cut in 2009 and 2011 and then increased in 2013 and again in 2016 – it takes time for supply levels to build.

“The SFHA is working hard with members, Scottish Government and other partners to help deliver an increased supply of affordable homes. More homes will not only help solve Scotland’s housing crisis but improve people’s life chances, create jobs, and have a beneficial effect on health and wellbeing.

“However, in order to meet the affordable homes target, our members requires stable levels of investment to be able to plan – it cannot be turned on and off like a tap. We look forward to seeing evidence of the Scottish Government commitment to investment in tomorrow’s Scottish Budget.”

affordable housing stats Dec 2016Trade body Homes for Scotland described the statistics as a step in the right direction but pointed to a worrying eleven per cent drop in private sector starts over the same period.

Nicola Barclay, chief executive of Homes for Scotland, said: “Whilst this increase in completions is welcome, at less than 600 homes, much more obviously needs to be done in order to effectively tackle Scotland’s housing crisis and this will require many thousands of new homes of all tenures.

“Over the period from 2010, annual completion levels have effectively flatlined at an average of around 15,000 and we now see a worrying drop in the total number of homes being started, with alarming disparity between public and private sectors.

“The system therefore remains in need of resuscitation to ensure that the pipeline of new homes coming through is not blocked or delayed by bureaucratic processes.

“This is reflected in comments made by some of our members that it has never been harder to open new sites and get homes out of the ground.

“With the majority of those living here still wanting to own their own home, it is essential that the Scottish Government gets on top of the barriers that are preventing people from achieving this most basic of aspirations and enables our industry to increase the contribution it makes to our country’s social and economic wellbeing.”

affordable housing approvals Dec 2016Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, added: “An upturn in approvals for affordable housing is welcome news but we need to ensure that these result in completed homes – especially given that there was a disappointing 7 percent decrease in the number of completions between September 2015 and September 2016.

“To start tackling Scotland’s housing crisis and to meet the Scottish Government’s target of 50,000 affordable homes during this parliament, the level of completions has to double what we’ve seen over the last few years.

“A major increase in the supply of truly affordable homes is ever more important in light of today’s Registers of Scotland report, which showed that house prices continued to rise in Scotland, putting homes further out of reach for people on lower incomes.”

Graeme Brown added: “It is good news that total number of empty properties and second homes has decreased by 3 percent to 61,865 – which is a result in part of the work of the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership, which, working with local authority empty homes officers across Scotland, has now helped bring more than 2,000 empty properties back into use.”

affordable housing completions Dec 2016Minister for housing Kevin Stewart said: “It is good news the number of new build houses being completed has risen to almost 16,000 in the last year, with the rate in Scotland remaining higher than the UK average. We are investing £160 million to support home ownership this year and since 2007, our home ownership schemes have supported over 22,000 households to buy a home.

“Looking to the future it is also hugely encouraging to see the rise of affordable housing supply approvals, up by 34 per cent, which shows the impact of the Scottish Government’s commitment of £3 billion as we continue our progress to deliver 50,000 affordable houses in this parliamentary term.”

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