Home completions fall by 28% as lockdown measures take toll



The number of homes completed across all sectors in Scotland in the year to end September 2020 decreased by 28% on the previous year, with activity levels being affected by the introduction of lockdown measures in mid-March to late June 2020, according to the latest quarterly housing statistics from the Scottish Government.

There were 15,852 new-build homes completed during the period, 6,132 homes fewer than the previous year. Decreases were seen across private-led completions (31%, or 5,133 homes), housing association completions (15%, or 591 homes) and local authority completions (27%, or 408 homes).

The number of new-build homes started across all sectors also decreased in the year to end September 2020, with a total of 18,973 starts, a decrease of 24% (5,986 homes) on the previous year. Private-led starts decreased by 33% (6,055 homes) and local authority starts decreased by 29% (580 homes), while housing association approvals increased by 13% (649 homes).

More up-to-date figures published as part of the UK House Price Index show a total of 2,680 private new-build sales transactions in Scotland in the quarter from January to March 2021. This is a decrease of 13% (405) on the 3,085 transactions recorded in October to December 2020, but an increase of 1,963 on the 717 transactions seen in April to June 2020, when construction and housing market lockdown measures were in place.

This brings the total number of private new-build sales transactions in the year to end March 2021 to 8,904, a decrease of 27% (3,340 transactions) on the 12,244 transactions recorded in the same period in 2020.

Latest social sector new housebuilding figures for October to December 2020 show that 1,256 social sector homes were completed. This is an increase of 285 homes on the previous quarter July to September 2020, but a decrease of 14% (213 homes) on the 1,469 social sector completions in October to December 2019. This brings the total completions for the 12 months to end December 2020 to 4,189, a decrease of 29% (1,720 homes) on the 5,909 social sector homes completed in the previous year.

There were 1,595 affordable homes completed in the latest quarter April to June 2021, bringing the total number of affordable homes completed in the 12 months to end June 2021 to 7,864. This is a decrease of 5% (374 homes) on the 8,238 affordable homes completed in the previous year, with decreases in the number of completions for social rent (by 11%, or 701 homes) and affordable home ownership (by 5%, or 63 homes), but an increase in the number of completions for affordable rent (by 48%, or 390 homes).

A total of 1,063 affordable homes were approved in April to June 2021. This brings the total number of homes approved in the 12 months to end June 2021 to 7,972, a decrease of 36% (4,404 homes) on the 12,376 homes approved in the previous year, with decreases in the number of approvals for social rent (by 38% or 3,692 homes), affordable rent (by 30%, or 420 homes) and affordable home ownership (by 23%, or 292 homes).

Over the same period April to June 2021, there were 1,854 affordable homes started, bringing the total number of homes started in the 12 months to end June 2021 to 11,097. This is an increase of 3% (282 homes) on the 10,815 homes started in the previous year, with increases in the number of starts for social rent (by 5%, or 405 homes) and affordable home ownership (by 3% or 34 homes), but a decrease in the number of starts for affordable rent (by 9%, or 157 homes).

The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) said the statistics highlight how “crucial” it is that there is adequate investment throughout the next five years to ensure the new Affordable Housing Supply Programme can be delivered.

Aaron Hill, SFHA director of policy and membership, said: “With the pandemic leading to the previous Affordable Housing Supply Programme target of 50,000 homes being missed, it’s crucial that, in order to continue tackling housing need in Scotland, we can deliver this parliament’s programme.

“While we welcome the Scottish Government’s ambition to deliver 110,000 affordable homes by 2032, as well as the investment of over £3.4 billion for this parliament, we know the cost of building homes is rising, and our members are increasingly experiencing supply chain issues, so we are calling on the government to keep funding under review throughout the next five years to ensure it remains adequate. Funding must meet increasing costs, so we can deliver the homes Scotland needs.”