Affordable home approvals soar in Scotland

There were 10,276 approvals for affordable housing over the year ending March 2017, an increase of 29%, or 2,331 homes, on the previous year, according to the latest Quarterly Housing Statistics for Scotland. This represents the highest levels of activity in the affordable house-building sector in Scotland since the early 1980s.

However, overall housing output in Scotland continued to flatline with only 88 more homes (1%) built in 2016 than the year before.  Figures also indicate that things won’t be improving any time soon with a fall in the number of homes (279 – down 2%) being started in the same period.

Nicola Barclay, Chief Executive of industry body Homes for Scotland, said, “Whilst the Scottish Government highlights a 29 per cent increase in funding approvals for ‘affordable housing’, allocating grant is very different to actually building homes.

“More concerning for the population of Scotland is the big picture in relation to total figures across all tenures for which completions are still over 36 per cent down on 2007 levels and still less than what was built in 2010.”

Between October and December 2016, 3,546 private sector led homes were completed; 15 homes less (0% change) on the same quarter in 2015. This brings the total for the year to end December 2016 to 12,576, which is 2% (203 homes) more than the 12,373 completions in the previous year.

There were 2,648 private sector led starts between October and December 2016, up 5% on the same quarter in 2015. This brings the total for the year ending December 2016 to 11,896, which is 8% (1,070 homes) less than the 12,966 starts in the previous year.

Meanwhile, more than £1.75 billion is being allocated to councils in a major Scottish Government commitment to stimulate investment in affordable housing.

For the first time, details have been confirmed of each local authority’s full funding allocation for affordable housing over the next three years.

The move is designed to help local authorities and housebuilders plan their investment and provide certainty on the amount of funding available until 2021.

In 2018-19, £532 million will be shared amongst local authorities – rising to £591 million in 2019-20 and £630 million in 2020-21.

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said this would support the government’s ambitious commitment of delivering 50,000 affordable homes by 2021.

He said, “We are announcing to local authorities how much money they’ll have to invest in affordable housing until the end of this Parliament. It means they can plan these new affordable homes now – with the certainty that the funding will increase year-on-year.

“This is also an important signal to the house-building sector in Scotland and demonstrates our commitment to the industry and the estimated 14,000 jobs our affordable housing supply programme supports each year.

“With a huge number of affordable homes approved last year, we can be confident that our programme is on course to deliver for Scotland. Today’s announcement will provide the certainty that local authorities and the sector need to accelerate this progress and ensure we keep up this momentum to reach our goal of 50,000 new affordable homes by 2021.”

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