Adviser leading calls for action

Grant Thornton urges ‘national conversation’ on housing

housebuildingBusiness growth adviser Grant Thornton has proposed a ‘national conversation’ involving private and public sector leaders to address housing needs.

The firm says greater collaboration could kick start a more radical, sustainable approach to housing policies and better meet the demands of a growing population and economy.

A number of steps have already been taken to tackle Scotland’s housing issues, including the cancellation of the right-to-buy scheme and the formation of a 21st Century Homes initiative.

But, amid growing economic uncertainty in the wake of the EU referendum – and fears of a potential housing slowdown – Grant Thornton believes a more collaborative approach would address a number of issues.

These range from affordability to land availability and growth prospects in Scotland’s economically important property and construction sector.

A recent survey by Grant Thornton in London found that eight in ten companies were concerned that a lack of affordable housing could damage growth prospects, with employees priced out of living in the city. The findings have reinforced calls for a major housebuilding initiative in the UK capital.

Joanne Brown, Grant Thornton’s head of public sector assurance in Scotland, said: “While London has witnessed far higher housing costs, the issues are similar to what we’re starting to see in Scotland.

“North of the border, there has already been a number of significant steps taken to tackle the range of housing issues the we currently face.

“We have a lot to be proud of. A ‘national conversation’ involving public and private sector leaders is the natural next step in the process of tackling some of the chronic issues facing housing.”

Lorraine Macphail, Grant Thornton’s head of property and construction in Scotland, added: “Since the global economic downturn of 2009, we’ve witnessed an extremely fragile recovery within the Scottish property sector.

“The industry has warned for some time that it was not out of troubled waters, and the recent EU referendum result has simply reinforced those fears.

“A joined-up collaborative approach that addresses the concerns of both private and public bodies and builds on previous successful strategies could finally help develop a vibrant industry that is providing an adequate supply of housing stock and contributing to a more sustainable Scottish economy.”

The trade body Homes for Scotland has repeatedly called for measures to stimulate more house-building to meet demand.

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