Building new homes in Scotland ‘hits 65-year low’

Picture: Cate Gillon
Picture: Cate Gillon
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Scotland’s house-building crisis has deepened with the number of homes being constructed at a 65-year low, according to figures.

The country is now facing a shortfall of 140,000 homes in the years ahead, industry body Homes for Scotland warned.

There were 14,877 homes, including private and social housing, built in 2012. That is a drop of more than 42 per cent on 2007 levels and is the lowest number since 1947, when there were 12,149 new-builds.

The SNP government at Holyrood and coalition government ministers in London are being urged to take action to help ­revive the ailing industry.

Scottish housing minister Margaret Burgess said the amount of building which got under way on new homes was up for the first time in six years, according to the official figures published yesterday.

However, Philip Hogg, chief executive of Homes for Scotland, said: “It is estimated that 465,000 new homes are needed in Scotland by 2035 to meet demand.

“The build-rates highlighted point to a potential shortfall in the region of 140,000 by this time, when there are currently already significantly more people than that on housing waiting lists.

“Clearly, this would only exacerbate Scotland’s housing crisis and highlights the need for further intervention by the Scottish Government to help reverse this downward trend.”

Scottish Building Federation executive director Michael ­Levack said the continuing fall in new homes was a concern and called for Chancellor George ­Osborne to pump more cash into capital spending to help the construction industry.

Mr Levack said: “As we gear up for the Chancellor’s 2013 spending review later this month, I hope these numbers will add further weight to the calls being made for a reversal in cuts to capital spending.

“With demand for affordable housing at a record high, building more homes ought to be a major political priority.

“Bolstering capital investment in housing would provide the pipeline of work construction companies need to rebuild capacity and jobs, and to offer more high-quality apprenticeship opportunities within the industry. House-building should be seen as a major catalyst of economic growth – and government funding priorities need to reflect that.”

The Scottish Government insisted a total of 13,541 new homes were started, compared to 13,310 in the year to December 2011.

Ms Burgess said: “I am encouraged by these figures. Although operating conditions remain very challenging for Scotland’s house-building industry, these latest statistics are a step in the right direction.”

The UK government is continuing to support first-time buyers through investment in shared-equity schemes.

The SNP government has also delivered on its target to complete 4,000 social homes during 2012-13.