Homes warning

Housebuilding in Scotland collapses to decade low

Construction, housebuilding
Housebuilding in Scotland has fallen sharply (pic: Terry Murden)

Construction of homes in Scotland is at its lowest in a decade and contributing to concern that recent budget cuts will slow activity further.

The latest plunge – a 15% fall in new builds started to 16,404 to March this year – was down 15% on the previous year and the weakest performance since 2013-14.

The total number of homes completed dropped by 17%t o 19,632 the lowest since ipandemic-hit 2020-21.

This represents four consecutive quarters of decline in all-sector housing starts, a key indicator of future housing completions.

Industry leaders warn that the near-£200 million reduction in the affordable housing budget is not yet factored into the data.

First Minister John Swinney, the first minister, finally conceded last month that there is a nationwide housing emergency following declarations by several local authorities.

The new data showed private-sector house completions were down 13% to 14,589 on an annual basis, while starts fell 16% to 12,904.

Social housing saw 5,043 homes built, a drop of 27% and work started on 3,500, which was a fall of 14%, the lowest since 2012-13.

Jane Wood, chief executive of trade body Homes for Scotland, said the latest data added to the “mounting evidence” of the deep-rooted natured of the housing emergency.

“On the basis of the figures released today, the people of Scotland deserve more than platitudes and excuses,” she said.

“Our own research also highlights the decline of SME homebuilders and thousands of new homes now stalled across the country as a result of affordable housing budget cuts.”

Sally Thomas, chief executive of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, believed the “dire” statistics should act as a wake-up call for policymakers.

“Starts and completions of new homes are down in every sector and it’s clear we are seeing a collapse in housebuilding,” she said.

Housing minister Paul McLennan said the Holyrood government had delivered more than 131,000 affordable homes since 2007 and would spend more than £600 million in the 2024-25 financial year.

“While we remain focused on delivering 110,000 affordable homes by 2032, our capital block grant is being reduced by nearly 10 per cent, a loss of more than £1.3 billion by 2027-28,” he said.

Scottish Conservative shadow social security, housing and equalities secretary Miles Briggs MSP said: “After 17 years of SNP inaction, Scotland is facing a housing emergency, yet the SNP have totally failed to address this crisis, leaving thousands of Scots stuck in temporary accommodation.

“The SNP’s brutal cuts to both council funding and the housing budget has left local authorities unable to help people move into affordable and safe homes.

“These statistics should be a source of shame for SNP ministers, who have been asleep at the wheel, while the number of new homes being built fell dramatically.

“The SNP’s failure to tackle the housing emergency has led to homelessness spiralling out of control and a record number of children being stuck in temporary accommodation.

“It is time for the SNP government to wake up and address this crisis head on, to ensure that every Scot has access to safe and affordable housing.”

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