Record Low in House Building in Scotland Is Bad News

Laurie Bidwell

1 September 2013

Statistics published last week by the Scottish Government reinforce what we can see with our own eyes that housing building in Scotland is at an extremely low ebb.

The figures published in Housing Statistics for Scotland 2013: Key Trends, show that:

New housing supply

New housing supply (new build, refurbishment and conversions) decreased by 14% between 2011-12 and 2012-13, from 16,922 to 14,629 units.

This was mainly driven by a drop in both private and housing association house building. Local authority completions also fell slightly from the previous year from 1,114 to 965.

New house building

In 2012-13, there were 13,803 completions in Scotland, a decrease of 13% on the previous year, when 15,940 had been completed. At the same time starts decreased by 9% from 13,791 in 2011-12 to 12,596 in 2012-13.

Affordable Housing

In 2012-13 there were 6,009 units completed through all Affordable Housing Supply Programme (AHSP) activity - this figure is 13% down on the previous year and represents the 3rd consecutive decrease since the peak in 2009-10.

Public sector housing stock: At 31 March 2013, there were 318,160 local authority dwellings in Scotland, a decrease of 1,224 from the previous year.

Sales of local authority dwellings: Sales of local authority dwellings fell by 9% in 2012-13, from 1,125 to 1,020. This continues the declining trend in sales observed over recent years, following the introduction of the modernised Right to Buy, which came into effect on 30 September 2002.

By 2025, it is estimated that 465,000 new homes will be required in Scotland.This is to meet demand generated by projected household formation. By this measure, the current rates of construction will see a substantial shortfall of as many as 160,000 houses by 2025. This may be good news for those selling their homes, as shortages fuel price rises. It is not good news however for first time buyers as rising prices may mean that they are priced out of becoming owner occupiers.

Not only is this bad news for those on a housing waiting list with the Council or Housing Associations or folk renting and trying to save a deposit, but also it bad news for the numerous unemployed building workers.

The SNP government in Edinburgh should hurry up introducing their equivalent to the help for first time buyers available in England.

When this was announced, equivalent additional money was granted to the Scottish Government.

They seemed to have dragged their feet and taken their time.

While the property market in England is showing signs of recovery, unfortunately this is not the case in Scotland.