Scottish Government affordable homes target for 2021 in reach

A new report into housing has identified the Scottish Government target of building 50,000 affordable homes by 2021 is likely to be delivered.

The Review of Strategic Investment Plans for Affordable Housing was commissioned by Shelter Scotland, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) and the Equality and Human Rights Commission in Scotland. It found delivery of affordable homes from April 2016 to March 2021 was estimated at between 45,387 and 49,773 - with up to 34,850 being socially-rented.

The report is based on analysis of all 32 council Strategic Housing Investment Plans (SHIPs) and associated documents, coupled with council staff interviews and detailed case studies.

Analysis shows that, at the top end of the predicted numbers of new affordable homes, 49,773 will be delivered, with a lower estimate of 45,387. The increased effort to build social housing is highlighted as the biggest rise that Scotland would have seen since the 1970s.

According to the report authors, rhis net rise, aided by the ending of Right to Buy in 2016, stands in stark contrast to England where the number of socially-rented homes is predicted to fall by 120,000.

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “This report is good news for the 137,100 households on council waiting lists and many others waiting for homes with housing associations. It shows that with the right political leadership Scotland’s social housing sector is ready to rise to the challenge of delivering the largest increase in social sector homes since the 1970s. Within our grasp, for the first time in a generation, is a significant increase in the affordable homes that so many badly need. However, whilst the headlines numbers are very encouraging, it is not yet clear if the right sort of homes are being built in the right places where people want to live. We need more detail and clarity on that crucial element of this programme.”

The report pinpoints that of the socially-rented homes, 70% will be to “greener” standard, but there is dramatic variation from area to area.  12% of homes will also be “specialist” in some way; however, this covers a wide range of options, from wheelchair accessible homes to those with care and support.

Sally Thomas, chief executive of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, welcomed the findings but conceded that more information is needed on whether the right properties are being built in the right places. “We welcome the report’s findings which show the 50,000 affordable homes target is potentially within reach,” Thomas said. “While contributing towards this target has not been without its challenges for our members – for example, the availability and cost of land – housing associations and co-operatives have proven that when set increased targets and given additional funding, they will deliver. Sixty-six percent of the new homes will be built with an RSL as lead developer.”

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