Sharp fall in new homes ‘underlines importance new First Minister must give to housing’

Sharp fall in new homes 'underlines importance new First Minister must give to housing'

The publication of yesterday’s Quarterly Housing Statistics has raised concerns that the number of affordable housing approvals has fallen to the lowest level for eight years.

According to the figures, private-led new build starts decreased by 11% (1,774 homes) in the year to end September 2022 and housing association new build approvals dropped by 27% (817 homes), whilst local authority new build starts increased slightly by 1% (11 homes).

There were 1,299 affordable homes approved in the latest quarter October to December 2022, which brings the total number of affordable homes approved in the 12 months to end December 2022 to 6,554, a decrease of 22% (1,860 homes) on the 8,414 homes approved in the previous year, and the lowest annual figure to end December since 2013. There were decreases in the latest year in the number of approvals for social rent (by 21%, or 1,352 homes), other affordable rent (by 5%, or 48 homes), and affordable home ownership (by 41%, or 460 homes).

Responding to the figures, SFHA chief executive Sally Thomas said: “These statistics, which show a worrying 27% decline in new housing association homes being started in the year to September 2022, underline the importance the new First Minister must give to social housing. If Scotland is to reach its ambitious target of 110,000 new affordable homes by 2032, housing associations will play a key role, and the incoming First Minister must redouble the Scottish Government’s focus on supporting housing associations and co-operatives to provide homes to those who need them most.”

Jane Wood, chief executive of sector body Homes for Scotland (HFS), raised concerns that the fall in new home starts will add to the housing shortfall of more than 110,000 homes that has accumulated in Scotland since 2007 when pre-financial crisis completion levels were 25,000.

Ms Wood said: “Whilst there was a much needed ten per cent increase in the number of new homes completed in the year to end September 2022 (up 2,023 to 22,905) , this positive news is again offset by the 12 per cent overall fall in the number of starts (down 2,580 to 19,227). Particularly worrying in the context of the Scottish Government’s Affordable Housing ambitions is the 27 per cent drop recorded in housing association approvals.

“The appointment of the new First Minister presents the perfect opportunity to review the regulatory areas and other issues creating blockers to residential development across sectors to ensure that housing in Scotland meets the needs and aspirations of everyone living here. We and our members are committed to achieving this.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Scotland has led the way in the delivery of affordable housing across the UK with 118,124 affordable homes delivered since 2007, with 83,291 of these for social rent.

“We are aware of the global issues affecting construction which are impacting housing delivery so are working closely with the construction industry and housing partners to mitigate this where possible.

“We continue to collaborate with all our partners to achieve our shared goal of delivering more affordable homes.”

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