29 Mar 2021

Affordable housing investment results in net growth of social housing in Scotland

Image of construction site

The Chartered Institute of Housing’s annual UK Housing Review 2021 (UKHR) published today (29 March) has reported that if the Scottish Government’s current social housing target is achieved, net growth in Scotland’s social rented housing stock will be around 25,000 homes over the lifetime of the programme allowing for demolitions and sales.  

The Scottish Government’s 35,000 social homes target has been stalled due to restrictions placed on the construction sector during the pandemic, although the Government has committed to completing the remaining homes over the next year.

The growth in social rented homes is in contrast to the rest of the UK and UKHR figures show that affordable homes delivered per 10,000 population in 2019/20 reached 17.0 in Scotland compared to 14.5 in Northern Ireland, 10.2 in England and 9.3 in Wales.

However, UKHR figures also raise some concerns with affordability showing that the average weekly  local authority rent in Scotland has increased from £67.45 in 2015 to £75.44 in 2019. For housing associations, the average weekly rent has increased from £80.99 to £87.98 during this time. These figures do not take into account the issues created by the pandemic and the likely long term financial impact for tenants and social landlords.

Callum Chomczuk, National director of CIH Scotland said

“The Scottish Government and the housing sector have much to be proud of, with the abolition of Right to Buy and a clear ambition to invest in affordable homes that will alleviate poverty, support better health and wellbeing and create jobs across the country – we are finally seeing a return to growth of social housing.

“We were pleased to see the importance of social and affordable housing reflected in the Scottish Government’s long term strategy for Housing to 2040 published on 15 March. A new ten year target to deliver 100,000 social and affordable homes from 2022 will allow social landlords to plan ahead and work with communities to create energy efficient, accessible and adaptable homes in places where people want to live.

“However, if these homes are to be truly affordable, we must ensure that subsidy levels reflect the cost of building high quality homes with better indoor and outdoor space standards, zero carbon technology and digital connectivity. The costs cannot be passed onto social tenants, many of whom are on low incomes or insecure employment.

“We look forward to working with the Scottish Government and other stakeholders to ensure we realise the ambition that every person in Scotland can assess a home that meets their needs.”