No end in sight to shortage

Drop in home building ‘highlights housing crisis’

housebuildingScotland’s home building industry today declared that there is no end in sight to the country’s housing crisis following publication of new statistics which show a 5% drop in the number of homes being built in the year to the end of June.

Quarterly figures also reveal half as many new homes were built than in the same period in 2007, prior to the economic downturn.

The figures are revealed less than a week after the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement in which he made housebuilding a focus for investment.

Philip Hogg (below), chief executive of trade body Homes for Scotland, used the figures to criticise the Scottish government for its “stop-start” approach to supporting first time buyers.

He said: “Today’s figures are not only disappointing, they are truly shocking and demonstrate the size of the challenge.  Unfortunately, there is little in the way of positives that can be taken.

“Not only do we see a fall in the latest yearly figures, the last two consecutive quarters have also shown a drop.  There has also been a 22% decrease on Q2 levels compared to last year but it is when you look at the position in 2007, prior to the economic downturn, that you see the true magnitude of the problem with completions down more than half.

Philip Hogg“The stop/start nature of Help to Buy funding, which this year ran out in May, is causing both home buyers and builders uncertainty, making it very difficult for the industry to forward plan and maintain any growth momentum.”

He added: “With this situation in marked contrast to the position south of the border, the consequences are reflected not just in today’s statistics but also our own more up-to-date data.

“The unfortunate truth of the matter is that today’s statistics show that the housing pressures facing Scots show no sign of abating.  If we are really serious about tackling the housing crisis, we must recognise two fundamental things.

“The first is that any ambition to increase levels of ‘affordable’ housing is welcome but is only a minority part of the picture.  Affordable housing delivery is inextricably linked to the building of homes in the private sector, the engine of housing delivery, through the direct contribution the industry makes through planning policy – so if we want to build more affordable housing, we must encourage and facilitate more private sector development.

“The second is that the majority of Scots, as research firmly shows, aspire to own their own home.

“Having an effective and accessible Help to Buy (Scotland) scheme without funding gaps is crucial on both of these counts, as is a balanced housing policy approach which places equal emphasis on having enough homes of all tenures in the right places to meet the diverse housing needs and aspirations of all those living in Scotland.”

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