SNP housing programme in 'absolute freefall' after stats show decline

The Scottish Government has been criticised after its housing programme declined despite a pledge to ramp up construction.
Concers have been raised over the Scottish Government's housebuilding programmeConcers have been raised over the Scottish Government's housebuilding programme
Concers have been raised over the Scottish Government's housebuilding programme

SNP ministers have been warned their flagship affordable housing programme is in “absolute freefall” after official statistics showed the number of new houses which saw construction either start or complete fell in 2023.

Quarterly housing data shows there were 20,992 new-build home completions and 16,017 starts in Scotland last year. Compared to 2022, completions decreased by 11 per cent and new starts were down 24 per cent.

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At 12,752 homes, private sector starts were at the lowest level since 2020, when pandemic restrictions led to a sharp decline in construction activity.

For affordable homes there were 6,239 approvals (a decrease of 5 per cent), 6,046 starts (down 20 per cent) and 9,680 completions (a decrease of 5 per cent) during 2023. However 2022 was a record high for affordable home completions.

The Scottish Government has a target to to deliver 110,000 affordable homes by 2032, despite concerns that the lack of capital investment will slow down progress.

Last week, Fife became the fourth Scottish local authority to declare a housing emergency and as pressure mounts on the Scottish Government over a £196 million cut to the affordable housing budget for next year.

Sally Thomas, chief executive of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA), said: “Scotland desperately needs the homes that housing associations provide: they are safe, warm and affordable homes for rent. Today’s figures show that the number of these homes being delivered are in absolute freefall - and this is before the Scottish Government’s devastating £196 million cut to affordable housing has even taken effect.

“We know that the government is keen to attract more private investment, but we’re concerned that this isn’t a solution. Social homes need government investment if we’re not to burden housing associations with debt which will force up rents.

“The Scottish Government has a target to deliver 110,000 homes by 2032 - the hopes of achieving that are now all but over. We need them to restore the much-needed funding and urgently work to forge a credible path out of our national housing emergency.”

Scottish Conservative shadow housing secretary, Miles Briggs, said: “These shocking figures highlight the SNP’s abysmal record on housing. Scotland is facing a housing crisis and still the SNP can’t even meet their own housebuilding targets.

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“Housebuilding is falling sharply – and things will get even worse with Shona Robison’s disastrous tax-and-axe budget which slashed almost £200million from the housing budget.

SNP Housing Minister Paul McLennan said: “Scotland has delivered more than 128,000 affordable homes since April 2007, over 70 per cent of which were for social rent, in turn helping to create strong, sustainable communities.

“In the year 2022-2023, Scotland delivered by far the most affordable homes per head of the population of any country in the UK – 69 per cent higher than the rate in England – building on our track record of doing more than any other part of the UK to provide and keep social homes.

“There’s no doubt that inflation, supply chain issues and labour shortages linked to Brexit have created a challenging environment, which is reflected in today’s statistics.

“Despite UK Government cuts to the capital budget, the Scottish Government also continues to invest heavily to support housing supply.”



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