Concern as decline in Scotland’s new homes starts continues
There were 23,512 all-sector new build homes completed in Scotland in the year to end March 2023, according to quarterly statistics on housebuilding and affordable housing supply published yesterday by Scotland’s Chief Statistician.
This is an increase of 9% (1,897 homes) on the 21,615 completions in the previous year, and the highest annual figure to end March since 2008. Increases were seen for private-led new build completions (10% or 1,491 homes) and housing association new build completions (30% or 1,164 homes), whilst local authority new build completions dropped by 28% or 758 homes.
Meanwhile the number of new build homes started across all sectors decreased by 2% (305 homes), with 19,204 starts in the year to end March 2023, down from 19,509 starts in the previous year, and 25% (6,382 homes) below the 25,586 homes started in the pre-pandemic year to end March 2020.
Private-led new build starts increased slightly by 1% (105 homes) whilst housing association new build approvals dropped by 11% (305 homes) and local authority new build starts decreased by 5% (105 homes).
Following recent progress with collecting private-led housebuilding data to a faster schedule from local authorities there is no longer a time lag of a quarter that existed in previous publications for the figures presented between private-led housebuilding and social sector figures, meaning that the publication now presents all sets of quarterly figures to the same latest time period, across social sector, private-led and all-sector starts and completions.
Separate quarterly statistics on the Affordable Housing Supply programme show there were a total of 3,631 affordable homes completed in the latest quarter January to March 2023. This brings the total number of affordable homes completed in the 12 months to end March 2023 to 10,458, an increase of 7% (701 homes) on the 9,757 homes completed in the previous year, and the highest annual completions figure since the start of the series in 2000.
There were increases in the number of affordable homes completed for social rent by 10% (767 homes) and other affordable rent by 20% (250 homes), however affordable home ownership completions fell by 27% (316 homes).
Meanwhile there were 3,072 affordable homes approved in the latest quarter January to March 2023, which brings the total number of affordable homes approved in the 12 months to end March 2023 to 6,396, a decrease of 18% (1,424 homes) on the 7,820 homes approved in the previous year, and the lowest annual figure to end March since 2015.
There were decreases in the latest year in the number of approvals for social rent (by 15%, or 896 homes), other affordable rent (by 30%, or 278 homes), and affordable home ownership (by 25%, or 250 homes).
There were 2,539 affordable homes started in the latest quarter January to March 2023, which brings the total number of affordable homes started in the 12 months to end March 2023 to 6,987, a decrease of 15% (1,240 homes) on the 8,227 started in the previous year, and the lowest annual figure to end March since 2015. There were decreases in the latest year in the number of starts for social rent (by 18%, or 1,132 homes) and affordable home ownership (by 27%, or 289 homes), whilst starts for other affordable rent increased by 25%, or 181 homes.
Quarterly affordable housing supply statistics are used to inform progress against Scottish Government affordable housing delivery targets, in which the ambition is to deliver 110,000 affordable homes by 2032, of which at least 70% will be for social rent and 10% will be in remote, rural and island communities.
There have been a total of 11,570 completions so far against the 110,000 target, across the period 23 March 2022 to 31 March 2023, consisting of 9,121 (79%) homes for social rent, 1,548 (13%) for other affordable rent, and 901 (8%) for affordable home ownership.
Figures on the remote, rural and island communities element of the target are planned to be reported on as part of future annual affordable housing supply out-turn reports, although we are considering whether it is feasible for these figures to also be reported on in the statistical publication.
Homes for Scotland (HFS) said the statistics highlight a major concern for the continuing fall in the number of new homes started across all sectors, which now stands at 25% below those started in the pre-pandemic year to end March 2020.
Jane Wood, chief executive of the housebuilding sector body, said: “These housing statistics are essential data for our sector and we appreciate the fact that there is no longer a time lag of a quarter that existed in previous publications for the figures presented between private-led and social home building.
“As we have been warning over the past six months, the continuing downward trend in the number of new homes started across all sectors (down 2% from 2021-22 and 25% from pre-pandemic figures (2019-2020) is of great concern, reflecting the ongoing challenges and blockers faced by our home builder members.
“Whilst we are seeing a welcome increase in completions, with financial year figures for 2022-23 (23,512) showing an edging towards pre-financial crisis total completion levels, this is still down 9% on this figure (25,788).
“The appointments of the new Minister for Housing and Minister for Local Government Empowerment and Planning present the perfect opportunity to review regulatory policy and address those barriers to development in order to ensure our members are able to deliver more housing in Scotland which meets the needs and aspirations of everyone living here.”