New home completions rise in Scotland
The number of new homes built in Scotland rose by 4% last year but there was a sharp fall in social sector completions, according to new figures.
Scottish government statisticians found a total of 15,541 properties were completed - 657 more than the previous year.
The increase was driven by a rise in private sector-led new build homes, with completions up 16% to 12,188.
However, the number of homes built in the social sector dropped 24% to 3,353.
The statisticians said there had been an improvement since then, with more recent social sector data showing a 4% year-on-year increase for the first quarter of this year.
Total completions under the Affordable Housing Supply Programme, which reflects a broader supply of affordable homes, increased by 1% to 7,069 in the 2014/15 financial year.
A total of 26,972 affordable homes have been built in the four years from 2011/12, as part of the programme.
The Scottish government said the latest housing statistics showed it was ahead of its five-year target to deliver 30,000 affordable homes by March 2016.
Housing Minister Margaret Burgess said: "The figures for the first quarter to the end of March 2015 are positive and we will work with partners to deliver our target of 30,000 affordable homes across Scotland by next year.
"In addition, we will continue to work closely with the housing sector to support the construction of new homes across all tenures, supporting jobs in the construction industry and wider economy, and helping to strengthen communities, promote social justice and tackle inequality."
Adam Lang, from housing charity Shelter Scotland, said: "It is good news that more houses are being built across Scotland and that the Scottish government is ahead of its targets.
"However, the completion of 4,221 new socially rented homes in the last year is still far below the number needed to meet demand.
"With 150,500 households on council waiting lists for a home of their own, 10,000 new homes for social rent are needed each year if we are to meaningfully tackle Scotland's housing crisis."
Industry body Homes for Scotland said the Help to Buy (Scotland) shared equity scheme was the catalyst behind the 16% increase in private sector home building last year.
Chief Executive Philip Hogg said: "Having already resulted in 5,000 sales and now proven to have significantly increased housing production, the impact of Help to Buy (Scotland) is obvious for all to see.
"Not only has it stimulated the building of much-needed new housing and helped people meet their aspirations to own their own home, it has also channelled investment to Scotland, supporting vital jobs and boosting the wider economy.
"Disappointingly, however, with demand resulting in early closure of the main scheme just last week and no announcement on further support forthcoming from the Scottish government, we now seem to be at risk of letting the opportunity to build on its success pass us by rather than capitalising on the wide-ranging social and economic benefits it has to offer."