Latest housing statistics released yesterday by the Scottish Government have been broadly welcomed by the industry though the figures were met with caution by Homes for Scotland.
The figures revealed that the number of homes built in Scotland for the full year to end September 2014 rose by six per cent compared to the previous year. 15,436 homes were completed in the year to end September 2014, 901 homes more than in the year to end September 2013.
In the same period there were 11,828 private sector led starts, ten per cent higher than the previous year.
The number of social sector homes started also rose by five per cent to 3,593 compared to 3,417 started in the previous year.
Whilst welcoming any increase in housing supply, Homes for Scotland questioned the sustainability of a reported rise in the number of new homes for the year to end September 2014 amidst the funding issue surrounding the Scottish Government’s Help to Buy shared equity scheme and a production drop-off in the last quarter.
Philip Hogg, chief executive, said: “We are sure that the Scottish Government shares our goal that more homes of all types are needed to meet Scotland’s diverse housing needs and address the chronic undersupply our country faces. Indeed, this is essential if the first minister’s aspirations for fairness and equality are to be achieved.
“However, the annual increase announced is reported as being driven by the private sector, activity which we believe is largely the result of the hugely successful Help to Buy (Scotland) scheme. With the Scottish Government advising that the budget for those buying from larger builders will be exhausted by summer, we fear the consequences this will have on housing output later in the year. Noting the fall in production for Q3 2014 shown in today’s figures following last July’s interruption in funding, we therefore expect the full year to be broadly flat.”
Hogg also highlighted the ambition being witnessed south of the border with the main Westminster parties all pledging to significantly increase house building using a range of initiatives as part of their general election manifestos, saying: “All parties have been setting targets and announcing new housing initiatives, even Wales has just announced its intention to extend its Help to Buy scheme to meet the demand that exists and provide much needed confidence to buyers and developers.
“It has been nearly two years since Audit Scotland highlighted the need for half a million new homes over the next 25 years so we urge the Scottish Government not to wait any longer and take the bold and decisive action which is long overdue and needed now on planning, land availability, funding and help for SME builders to ensure we have enough homes in the right locations to properly house our growing population.
“After all, creating jobs and providing homes which offer the safety and security necessary for people to develop their potential is a social and economic win win.”
Ed Monaghan, chief executive of Mactaggart & Mickel Group, said the annual rise in new build completions can be attributed to the increasing investment from the private sector.
He added: “This boost in consumer confidence can be linked to initiatives that stimulate the market such as Help to Buy (Scotland). In order to keep building on these positive results it’s vital that funding for programmes is maintained.
“It’s important that we continue to encourage growth in the construction industry by boosting skilled employment and also through partnership working on innovative programmes in which the public sector has a vital role to play.”