Scotland business

Housebuilding in Scotland rises 6%

House wall under construction

The number of new homes built in Scotland has risen, according to government figures.

In the year to the end of September last year, 15,436 homes were completed - up 6% on the previous year.

But critics said the figures highlighted a continuing difficulty in delivering social housing.

The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) said the number of approvals for new homes had risen slightly from previously low levels.

There were 11,828 private sector-led starts during the year, 10% higher than the previous year, while the number of social sector homes started also rose by 5% to 3,593.

Affordable homes

Housing Minister Margaret Burgess said the figures were to be welcomed as they provided further encouragement for the housebuilding industry.

"Our increased investment in housebuilding has helped stimulate growth in the Scottish economy and led to more starts in the private and social sectors," she said.

"We plan to spend over £1.7bn to deliver our target of 30,000 affordable homes over the lifetime of this parliament.

"With almost 24,000 affordable homes delivered, we have already reached 80% of this target."

The figures also showed that 3,316 new build homes were completed in Scotland between July and September 2014, down from the 4,620 completed in the previous quarter.

The figure for April to June had been the highest since the end of 2009.

SFHA said the figures showed that there were 435 housing association completions between July and September 2014, 43% down on the same quarter in 2013.

Approval was given for the construction of 198 new social rented homes, down by 22% on the same quarter in 2013.

SFHA voiced concern at these reductions. It said that while the annual total of approvals had increased, it was from a very low level of previous years when there had been concerns about subsidy levels and viability.

"The reasons may well be found in the continuing concerns about the availability of private finance for new projects, as well as land banking and pipeline issues where investment in progressing new projects has been difficult," said Susan Torrance, SFHA policy manager.

"Whether these figures can be seen as a blip or otherwise, they do emphasis the continuing difficulties of delivering new social rented housing for the people in our communities in greatest need. We must continue, as a sector, to keep building new homes, where these are required, for the people of Scotland."

Graeme Brown, director of the housing charity Shelter Scotland, said: "The increase to 3,593 new build starts is still far below the number needed to meet demand.

"A lack of investment in social housing over the last three decades and the impact of right to buy, with more than half a million social homes sold off, all add up to a major shortage of social housing across Scotland.

"With 150,500 households on council waiting lists for a home of their own, we believe at least 10,000 new homes for social rent need to be built each year to start meaningfully to tackle Scotland's housing crisis."

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