Social landlords ‘require additional capacity’ to deliver 50,000 homes target

construction stockAround two thirds of social landlords in Scotland have insufficient in-house skills and capacity to deliver an expanded programme of new affordable housing beyond what they currently have planned, a new survey has revealed.

According to the poll, this includes one third who say they have no or insufficient skills and capacity even to be able to deliver on current plans.

Asked if they were confident that the Scottish Government’s target of building 50,000 new affordable homes over the lifetime of the current Scottish Parliament will be achieved, almost half of respondents said they were not, compared to just under one quarter who said they were and a further 29 per cent who gave a neutral response.

The findings are part of the results of the latest survey of senior professionals in Scottish housing associations and local authority departments across Scotland, carried out by social housing data and insight provider HouseMark Scotland.

Those responding to the survey were a broad cross section of the Scottish housing sector and included HouseMark members as well as several who are not currently members.

Virtually all organisations responding to the survey confirmed they are currently developing new housing of one or more types. Over half of respondents are developing new homes for social rent, with 18 per cent developing new homes for mid-market rent and a further 16 per cent involved in delivering new housing for low cost ownership.

Respondents to the survey rated their organisation’s performance in achieving value for money in the delivery of new homes particularly highly, with 75 per cent awarding a mark of 7 out of 10 or above. By comparison, survey participants rated their organisation’s performance in successfully benchmarking the cost of developing new homes relatively lower with the percentage of respondents who awarded their performance as 7 out of 10 or above falling to 39 per cent.

Commenting on the survey results, head of HouseMark Scotland, Kirsty Wells, said: “It’s encouraging that such a large number of organisations responding to this survey are already involved in delivering new affordable homes of one or more tenures. Most also seem confident that they are achieving good value for money in the delivery of new homes.

“At the same time, this survey also suggests that many organisations must do more to increase the in-house skills and capacity they will need to achieve a significant acceleration in new housing delivery to meet the Scottish Government’s target to deliver 50,000 new affordable homes over the next five years. Our members have expressed concerns around a shortage of experienced development and project management staff within the sector. This also sits alongside concerns about the planning system, infrastructure and utilities companies being able to deliver on time, on target and within budget.

“There is also room for improvement within the sector in benchmarking the cost of developing new homes. In the context of ongoing budget constraints, a more consistent approach to benchmarking the cost of developing new homes across the industry will make a crucial contribution towards building up in-house skills and capacity and help to ensure that targets can be achieved. Ultimately, the efficiencies in economic management that can be achieved through cost and resource peer benchmarking will free up financial and staff resources that can then be diverted into delivering more new homes.”

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