Call for improvement

Delayed homes data ‘hampers’ decision making

Nicola Barclay HFS conf

Nicola Barclay: situation must improve (pic: Terry Murden)

Housing industry leader Nicola Barclay has criticised a delay in publishing government statistics, claiming it hampers effective monitoring and decision making in the sector.

Ms Barclay, chief executive of trade body Homes for Scotland, says the time taken to publish figures has been extended from six months to a year.

She has also re-stated concerns over under-resourced planning departments, adding that it is “practically impossible” in some cases for her members to contact local authority staff, with planning applications “left in limbo as matters are left to drift”.

She accepted the work-from-home pressures over the past 21 months, but said the government should have adapted to new working arrangements by now.

The latest data shows a 35% fall in the number of new homes built across all sectors and starts are down 27% in the year to the end of December last year. More up-to-date figures are not available.

Ms Barclay said: “Today’s statistics are not a surprise. They are in line with the feedback we received from our members during 2020 and which we shared with politicians and officials over a year ago.

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“The numbers are, however, depressing – not only in terms of the scale of recovery that will be required to return to pre-Covid levels after all the positive progress of recent years, but also in respect of the doubling of the time to publish this data, from six to 12 months.”

Ms Barclay said that “ensuring up-to-date data is available is essential to supporting effective, evidence-based policy decision-making.

“It is only by regular, frequent monitoring of starts and completions that we can measure the success or otherwise of housing interventions.

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