Council housing income tops £1.21bn

The total amount of income generated from all council properties in Scotland was £1.21 billion in 2018-19, of which around £656 million was spent on housing management and maintenance and £277m on loan charges, official figures have revealed.

A council housing development in East Ayrshire

The surplus of £234m was invested in housing capital projects, including new build council houses and enhancing existing stock.

Scottish Council Housing Income and Expenditure statistics for the year 2018/2019, published by Scotland’s Chief Statistician, show that rent arrears on council properties totalled £74 million in March 2019, up £9m (14.0%) on last year. This increase represents 6.2% of the total income from council properties.

During the same period, the number of council tenants in arrears has increased by around 2,940 tenants or 3% to 102,702 and the number of former tenants in arrears decreased by around 2,180 tenants or 7.0% to around 30,400.

In 2018-19 budgets, councils wrote off nearly £10.8m of outstanding rent as unrecoverable, compared to £10.1m in the previous year.

Provisional estimates show councils invested £738m in housing capital projects including £286m on new council houses and £389m on enhancement to existing council houses.

There were 311,240 council houses in Scotland in March 2019, which is an increase of around 1,100 houses since March 2018. This is forecast to increase by 1,300 by March 2020.

Other key findings include:

Housing management and maintenance 

The average amount spent on the day-to-day management and maintenance of council housing was £2,080 per house in 2018-19.

Council rents

In 2018-19 average council rents ranged from £60 per week in Moray to £97 per week in the City of Edinburgh. Tenants paid an average of £72 per week to rent their homes in 2018-19, an increase of just over £2.00 or 3% per week since 2017-18.   

Income from Housing Benefit

In 2018-19, rent rebate subsidy for council house tenants from Housing Benefit was around £519m or 45% of total income from standard rents. This has decreased each year since 2014-15 when it was 57%. In 2018-19 rent rebate subsidy as a proportion of standard rents varied from 30% in East Lothian and the Shetland Islands to 60% in Renfrewshire.

Housing debt

Councils spent £277m on HRA loan charges: interest, capital repayment and loan fund expenses, in 2018-19. Total council housing debt stood at £3.8bn in 2018-19 an increase of around £255m or 6.0% on the previous year. Councils borrowed to improve and build council houses. Council housing debt is forecast to rise to £4.3bn up £480m in 2019-20.

Capital expenditure

Councils’ provisional housing capital expenditure was estimated to be £738m in 2018-19. This included just over £389m on improvements to existing council houses and £286m on new council houses. This expenditure is in addition to the day-to-day maintenance referred to above.