Numbers fall

Housing slump questions for new DFM Robison

Shona Robison
Shona Robison: missed targets (pic: Terry Murden)

A further drop in house building will embarrass the new Deputy First Minister Shona Robison who was responsible for the sector in Nicola Sturgeon’s cabinet.

Government figures reveal a 12% fall in new starts in the year to the end of September last year compared to the previous 12 months.

Trade body Homes for Scotland says this will add to the housing shortfall of more than 110,000 homes that has accumulated in Scotland since 2007 when pre-financial crisis completion levels were 25,000.

Jane Wood, chief executive of Homes for Scotland, which represents members delivering the majority of the country’s new homes, said: “Whilst there was a much needed 10% increase in the number of new homes completed (up 2,023 to 22,905) , this positive news is again offset by the 12% overall fall in the number of starts (down 2,580 to 19,227). 

“Particularly worrying in the context of the Scottish Government’s Affordable Housing ambitions is the 27% drop recorded in housing association approvals.

“The appointment of the new First Minister presents the perfect opportunity to review the regulatory areas and other issues creating blockers to residential development across sectors to ensure that housing in Scotland meets the needs and aspirations of everyone living here.  We and our members are committed to achieving this.”

Ms Robison, who was Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government in the Sturgeon government, was confirmed as Humza Yousaf’s deputy after he was installed as First Minister. She was responsible for the controversial gender reform legislation.

The Dundee East MSP was a key member of Mr Yousaf’s campaign team during the bitter SNP leadership contest and was critical of Kate Forbes.

She and Nicola Sturgeon have been close friends since they were students together at Glasgow University around three decades ago.

The former First Minister promoted her to Health secretary but she endured a torrid time as the drugs death crisis began to unfold.

She survived four years before losing her job in a cabinet reshuffle in 2018, standing down on the day the Scottish Government confirmed its worst cancer waiting times for six years.

Commenting on her new appointment, Scottish Conservative Chairman Craig Hoy said: “We have two failed health secretaries at the top of government, at a time when fixing the NHS is a huge priority.

“Shona Robison – like Humza Yousaf – has flopped in her previous ministerial roles. As well as breaking her promise to eradicate bed-blocking when at health, as housing secretary she has overseen the highest number of homeless applications on record and as local government secretary has presided over swingeing cuts to council budgets.”


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