As new data shows @ScotGov running behind social housebuilding target, Shelter says its ‘promise must not be broken’

Ben Wray

Housing Minister: “While we know this is an ambitious target, we have shown we can deliver on housing and we will continue to do so.”

HOMELESSNESS charity Shelter Scotland has warned the Scottish Government that it must not break its “promise to Scotland” of delivering 35,000 social houses between 2016-2021, as new data shows it has a long way to go to meet its target.

The statistics, published by the Scottish Government today [11 December] shows 5,340 social rented homes were delivered to September 2018, an increase of 19 per cent.

But, as Shelter Scotland Director Graeme Brown has pointed out, in total 11,825 social homes have been built since the 2016 Scottish elections, meaning that – with half the time gone – only approximately one-third of the necessary homes have been built.

READ MORE: Think-tank argues housing ‘numbers game’ has to be replaced by demand-led model, as Scottish Labour announces new housebuilding policy

“This leaves much of the target on the drawing board and means we will have to see an acceleration in building if the target is to be met,” Brown stated.

He added: “The more homes programme is a promise to Scotland that must not be broken. It represents the biggest investment in social housing since the 1970s and a chance to begin to restore the foundations of our housing safety net which has been badly damaged by decades of underinvestment.”

There were 4,697 new build homes started between April 2018 and June 2018, 6 per cent less than the same quarter in 2017.

The Scottish Government has talked up the new data, pointing out that five times as many social houses have been built in Scotland than England since 2014 per head of population.

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart responded to the statistics by stating: “During the course of this Parliament we are investing more than £3 billion to deliver our target of at least 50,000 affordable, high-quality homes, including 35,000 homes for social rent.

“While we know this is an ambitious target, we have shown we can deliver on housing and we will continue to do so.”

The data as a whole shows total housebuilding in Scotland slightly increased on the 12 months to June 2018, with 18,182 homes built, compared to 17,487 the year previously. That figure remains below pre-2008 crash levels, and on a longer view is still considerably behind the peaks of housebuilding in Scotland in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s, where housebuilding was regularly around the 30,000 per year mark and was predominantly social housing.

Graph by Ken Gibb

A 2013 Audit Scotland report found half a million new homes would be needed from 2011-2035 just to keep up with demand, 21,230 per year. That figure has not yet been reached in any year.

A report by Shelter Scotland and SFHA earlier this year analysing the delivery of the social housebuilding target found that the Scottish Government would meet its target, but that the net rise in social housing from 2016-21 after demolitions will only be 25,000.

The Ferret have estimated the council house waiting list, including the six local authorities which no longer have council housing, to be 188,000.

The new Scottish Government data also shows that the number of long term empty properties and second homes has increased in the latest year by 1,222 properties (2 per cent) from 62,795 in September 2017 to 64,017.

Picture courtesy of the Scottish Government