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Scotland Sees Rise in Affordable Home Approvals

The most recent Quarterly Housing Statistics for Scotland has confirmed that there were over 10,000 affordable home approvals over the year ending March 2017.

This represents a 29% increase over the previous year, the highest level of activity in Scotland’s housebuilding industry since the early 1980s.

However, housing output in Scotland has continued to weaken overall, with only 88 more homes built in 2016  than in 2015. Figures also suggest that the situation won’t be improving in the near future, with a decrease in the number of homes being commenced in the same time period.

Homes for Scotland Chief Executive Nicola Barclay said that whilst the Scottish government has reported a 29% increase in affordable home funding approvals, allocating grants is not the same thing as actually building the properties.

Ms Barclay said that what was more concerning for the residents of Scotland was the wider outlook suggested by total figures across all tenures. Completion levels are still 36% lower than the levels reported in 2007 and even lower than what was produced in 2010.

 

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Between October and December of last year, over 3,500 private sector house projects were completed, a difference of only 15 homes on the same quarter the year before. The year end for December 2016 is 12,576, which is 2%  more than the 12,373 completions in 2015.

In the private sector there were over 2,600 starts between October and December 2016, a 5% increase over the year before. The total for last year was 11,896, or 8% fewer homes than those completed in the previous year.

Meanwhile, the Scottish government is allocating over £1.75b to local councils as part of its commitment to increase investment in affordable housing. Each local authority’s funding allocation for the next three years were recently confirmed in a move intended to assist housebuilders and councils in planning their investments until 2021.

£532m will be shared amongst local authorities in 2018-19. In 2019-20 the figure will increase to £591m and £630m in 2020-21. According to Kevin Stewart, Housing Minister, this would support the government goal of delivering 50,000 new homes by 2021.

Mr Stewart said that the government would announce how much money local councils would have to invest in affordable housing until this Parliament concludes, allowing them to make plans now with the certainty that the funding will increase each year.

He said that this move demonstrates to the Scottish housebuilding sector that the government is committed to the industry and the estimated 14,000 jobs that the programme makes available every year.

With a large amount of affordable home approvals in 2016, Mr Stewart added that the programme is on the right track to deliver for the country. The recent announcement is intended to reassure residents that local authorities and the sector must continually improve progress and keep up the momentum to reach the 2021 goal.

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