Housing completions still below pre-Covid levels
The number of new homes being built in Scotland has yet to return to pre-Covid levels, official figures have shown.
Quarterly housing statistics published by the Scottish Government revealed there were 20,767 all-sector new build homes completed in Scotland in the year to end March 2022,
While this is an increase of 40% (5,900 homes) on the 14,867 completions in the previous year when housebuilding slumped across the country during the pandemic, the number of properties that were built was still lower than the 22,124 constructed in 2019-20 – which was the highest for more than a decade.
Homes for Scotland chief executive Jane Wood said the figures reveal a “frustrating” lag in reporting.
Ms Wood added: “After the challenges presented by the pandemic, these figures demonstrate the resilience of the home building sector after completion levels dropped below 15,000 in 2020/21. However, they also show how far behind we still are, so it is frustrating that there is such a timelag in reporting, particularly when we continue to face major obstacles to achieving sustained growth, not least of which include planning, material and labour shortages as well as increased costs.
“Up-to-date statistics are essential to supporting effective, evidence-based policy decision-making which is why we have committed to working with the Scottish Government to identify and address the data gaps that exist.
“Such collaboration between the public and private sectors and government at national and local levels is vital to delivering the homes that Scotland’s people need.”
Increases were seen across private-led new build completions (29% or 3,157 homes), local authority new build completions (87% or 1,256 homes), and housing association new build completions (63% or 1,488 homes).
The number of new build homes started across all sectors increased by a smaller amount, with 18,672 starts in the year to end March 2022, up 5% (914 homes) on the 17,758 starts in the previous year. Private-led new build starts rose by 3% (430 homes) and local authority new build starts increased by 43% (585 homes), whilst housing association new build approvals dropped by 4% (101 homes).
Separate figures published as part of the UK House Price Index show a total of 11,850 private new build sales transactions in Scotland in the year to end May 2022, up 14% (1,473 transactions) on the 10,382 transactions recorded in the year to end May 2021, and an increase of 10% (1,038 transactions) on the year to end May 2020.
Latest social sector new housebuilding figures to end June 2022 show an increase of 23% (1,170 homes) to 6,254 new build completions, which compares to 5,084 new build completions in the previous year. Starts however fell by 4% (163 homes) to 4,437, down from 4,600 new build starts in the previous year.
Separate quarterly statistics on the Affordable Housing Supply programme show there were a total of 1,250 affordable homes completed in the latest quarter April to June 2022. This brings the total number of affordable homes completed in the 12 months to end June 2022 to 9,334, an increase of 17% (1,364 homes) on the 7,970 homes completed in the previous year. There were increases in the number of completions for social rent (by 29% or 1,656 homes), however affordable rent completions decreased by 11% or 136 homes), and affordable home ownership completions fell by 14% or 156 homes).
Meanwhile, there were 1,005 affordable homes approved in the latest quarter April to June 2022, which brings the total number of affordable homes approved in the 12 months to end June 2022 to 7,775, a decrease of 3% (127 homes) on the 7,978 homes approved in the previous year. Approvals for affordable rent dropped by 10% or 96 homes, and approvals for affordable home ownership fell by 13% or 203 homes, whilst approvals for social rent showed a slight increase of 0.3% or 20 homes.
There were 951 affordable homes started in the latest quarter April to June 2022, which brings the total number of affordable homes started in the 12 months to end June 2022 to 7,287, a decrease of 35% (3,881 homes) on the 11,168 started in the previous year. Starts for social rent fell by 31% or 2,598 homes, starts for affordable rent decreased by 61% or 985 homes, whilst starts for affordable home ownership fell by 26% or 298 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 2,362 completions so far against the 110,000 target, across the period 23 March 2022 to 30 June 2022, consisting of 2,068 homes for social rent, 127 for affordable rent, and 167 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 be reported on a quarterly basis in addition to this.