With some 7,000 fewer homes a year being built in Scotland than needed, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) warns of a “wake up call” on the need to boost affordable supply.
The study, released by BBC Scotland, found there was a 5,000 shortfall in the number of new homes built last year – or 7,000, if the extra homes needed to catch up with the backlog are included.
“This study shows that not only was it right to commit to build 50,000 affordable homes, there also needs to be a long-term focus on providing affordable homes of all tenures to meet outstanding need,” said SFHA Chief Executive Sally Thomas.
“While the finding of a 7,000 annual shortage in new housing is a wake-up call, it is not a complete shock. We know that many people now struggle to buy a home, as house prices have increased much faster than average wages, and private renting has tripled since 1999, leading to an affordability gap,” she said.
The shortfall comes on the back of an ambitious programme to build 50,000 affordable homes during the five years of the current parliament, which has seen a significant increase in public spending on housing, with £3bn committed by the Scottish Government and matched by housing association funding.
SFHA is calling for three actions that would help increase the supply of new homes and solve Scotland’s housing crisis for the long-term:
- Continued grant investment in new build affordable housing at present levels
- Planning and land system reform in order to provide affordable land for housing development
- Reform of the housing system so that a range of high quality affordable housing is available to meet people’s changing needs throughout their lives
“These figures clearly demonstrate that there must be continued investment to fund social and affordable housing beyond the current parliament, and we are calling on all political parties to commit to this,” Thomas said.
“The current Planning Bill provides a real opportunity to reform the system and increase the supply of affordable housing.
“We are calling for the bill to set national and regional housing targets and allow land to be transferred at existing use value for affordable housing development.
“This would increase the supply of sites for affordable housing, as, at present, land value goes up when planning permission is granted for housing, making housing development expensive to fund.
She added: “Finally, in the longer-term, we want to see reform of Scotland’s housing system so that it meets everyone’s needs.
“We want to see a property democracy – a level playing field of housing options and choices, with tenure neutrality in standard, quality, public perception and access – and social housing as a positive and equal choice in a re-balanced and mature housing market which delivers from generation to generation, according to need and aspiration, reinvesting the money in more homes.”