Affordable housing increase welcome but builders warn of material shortages and lack of support for first-time buyers

HFS Chief Executive Nicola Barclay

INDUSTRY body Homes for Scotland (HFS) has responded to this afternoon’s Programme for Government, welcoming the commitment to increased levels of affordable housing whilst warning of deliverability concerns across homes of all tenures in light of material shortages and cost pressures.  The organisation also highlights the very real impact that ignoring the plight of Scottish First Time Buyers (FTBs) will have on the future prospects of our young people.

HFS Chief Executive Nicola Barclay said:

“With public and private housing delivery so crucial to our social and economic outcomes, the announcement of an extra 10,000 affordable homes as a result of the recent SNP-Green co-operation agreement is very much welcomed.

“However, the present issues surrounding material shortages and consequent price increases are causing significant difficulties for all housing developers, regardless of tenure. Unless the situation quickly returns to more normalised levels, we could see longer term problems being created.

“This is also the case with the planning and regulatory systems which are in need of increased resources to enable local councils to cope with the levels of demand for new homes. Although the move to a digital planning application platform, as announced in today’s Programme, is encouraging, active support for more homes must go much further than that, as we emphasised in our recent response to the Scottish Government’s call for views on economic transformation.

A disappointing omission from the Programme for Government in Barclay’s view was the lack of any substantial assistance (beyond LBTT relief) for FTBs:

“One of the document chapters is ‘Scotland as a Land of Opportunity’ which talks about supporting young people and promoting a fairer and more equal society. In the context of the disadvantage now facing FTBs as a result of the sudden closure of the First Home Fund and main Help to Buy scheme earlier this year, coupled with the fact that 82% of Scotland’s population aspire to own their own home, it is disappointing not to see any policy intentions on this. This is in stark contrast to other parts of the UK where the First Homes initiative has recently been launched, providing discounted home ownership as an integral part of affordable housing delivery. Only by providing the full range of housing options will we meet the needs of our population”.

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