Three-quarters of Scots think there is a shortage of homes for social rent

New research has revealed that three-quarters of Scottish adults believe there is a shortage of homes for social rent, with modern construction methods tipped to offer solutions to the challenges.

A study by Scape Procure Scotland has also suggested that it will take 33 years until everyone on the council housing waiting list has a home.

The public sector procurement specialist polled 1,000 people and found that 87% of respondents are “very concerned” about the lack of social rented homes being built north of the border. In a separate survey of senior managers and decision-makers at 25 of the 32 Scottish local authorities, nearly half are very concerned about the lack of social rented homes being built in their area.

With 137,100 households currently on council waiting lists, demand for social rented homes in Scotland dramatically outstrips supply.

Scape research suggests local authorities have 42 times more people on housing waiting lists than the insufficient number of homes available across the country. The research reveals that, on average, councils have just 101 social rented homes available at any one time.

Last year, local authorities only completed 1,200 new homes for social rent across Scotland.

Mark Robinson, Scape Group chief executive, said: “Senior officers at local authorities in Scotland are concerned about the pace at which homes for social rent are being built. While RSLs (Registered Social Landlords) manage estates effectively and are vital to regeneration, a reliance on the model is not providing enough homes for social rent. 137,100 households in Scotland are currently on the housing waiting list; at the current rate of construction it will be 33 years until everyone has a home.

“Given the current model is not working, local authorities need sole responsibility for the construction of new homes for social rent. The Scottish public sector demonstrated their ability to build at scale during the 1950s and 1960s and local authorities need to be empowered to deliver at this rate again.”

All of the council officers surveyed by Scape said their local authority would like sole responsibility for building more homes for social rent, rather than relying on RSLs. The public think that this approach would be better too. More than two-thirds (67%) would prefer councils to hold exclusive responsibility.

While the appetite is there, three in five of the council officers Scape surveyed are concerned that the skills shortage within the Scottish construction industry would stop councils increasing the rate of building dramatically. Since the financial crash in 2008, the UK construction industry has become increasingly reliant on workers from the European Union.

Scape believes that Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) offer “immediate solutions” to these challenges. These include panellised units produced in factories and assembled onsite; volumetric construction to produce modular units in factories prior to transport to site; and hybrid techniques that combine both panellised and volumetric approaches.

Mark Robinson added: “The opportunity Modern Methods of Construction presents to circumvent the skills shortage and deliver homes for social rent must be realised by local authorities and Holyrood. Scotland will need to innovate to meet housing requirements. We will need increased flexibility within the planning system to deliver modular homes, whether this is pre-approved designs that can be fast-tracked or sites assigned for modular developments.

“In construction, certainty as regards time and costs is a top priority and Modern Methods of Construction can deliver this. We need to see local authorities leading the way to encourage increased uptake and enable the industry to operate at scale.”

The full Scape Group report, The future of social homes for rent in Scotland, can be downloaded from or

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