Homes for Scotland’s anti-social housebuilding agenda ‘out of touch with reality’

construction stockHomes for Scotland’s view that a focus on affordable and social housing is exacerbating Scotland’s housing crisis and fails to grasp the commercial realities of development is “out of touch with reality” and must be “rejected outright” by the Scottish Government, according to a think-tank.

In an interview with The Times, recounted in Scottish Construction Now yesterday, Nicola Barclay, chief executive of industry body Homes for Scotland (HFS), said the government’s target of delivering 50,000 affordable homes by the end of this parliamentary session is damaging private sector growth and would not solve the current housing crisis.

However, Ben Wray, head of policy at Common Weal, has argued that this “anti-social” view is lobbying for the very property developer model which caused the housing crisis.

Mr Wray said: “When even Conservative minister’s in the UK government are saying that to solve the housing crisis we need to borrow more to build social housing, Homes for Scotland’s attempt to stymie social housebuilding in Scotland appear totally out of touch with reality.

“Since Homes for Scotland offer no clear policy solutions, it can only be assumed that this attack on social housebuilding is aggressive lobbying to extract yet more subsidies for private developers. Considering (earlier this month) the Scottish Government announced a new subsidy for private sector build-to-rent housing in partnership Homes for Scotland – on top of the huge subsidy they already get through housing benefit - it is quite remarkable that they are back for more so soon after.

“Any attempt to further privatise the housing market must be rejected outright by the Scottish Government. Not only is the dominance of the profit-motive in housing the major force behind the financial crisis in 2008, it is also the very reason why more affordable housing is not being built by the private sector, as rising property prices and land values make it more profitable to sit on land than to build on it. ONS data shows average house prices in Scotland hit their highest level ever in September 2017, rising above the previous pre-recession peak.

“The property developer model is what created the housing crisis – it would be madness to believe it can solve it as well.”

Adam Lang, head of communications and policy at Shelter Scotland, said he “couldn’t disagree more” that a move away from focus on social housing will help resolve the problems facing the sector.

He tweeted: “It is only a focus on affordable & social housing that will genuinely release the pressure on our housing system.

“It is exactly because we have not focussed enough on social house building in recent years that we are in a housing crisis.”

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