Scottish builders warning as figures show 35% drop in housing completions


SCOTTISH TRADE BODY Homes for Scotland (HFS) has highlighted the yearlong lag on release of official housing statistics following today’s publication showing a 35 per cent fall in the number of new homes built across all sectors in the year to end December 2020 – a decrease of 7,839 on the previous year at 14,834.  Starts are also down 27 per cent.

HFS Chief Executive Nicola Barclay said:

“Today’s statistics are not a surprise. They are in line with the feedback we received from our members during 2020 and which we shared with politicians and officials over a year ago.

“The numbers are, however, depressing – not only in terms of the scale of recovery that will be required to return to pre-Covid levels after all the positive progress of recent years, but also in respect of the doubling of the time to publish this data, from six to 12 months.

“Ensuring up-to-date data is available is essential to supporting effective, evidence-based policy decision-making. It is only by regular, frequent monitoring of starts and completions that we can measure the success or otherwise of housing interventions. Whilst recognising the initial impact the pandemic had on data collection, we’re now almost 21 months into living with the coronavirus, and we would have expected Scottish Government to have adapted its working practices by now.

“This is one of the key points HFS has made to Finance & Economy Secretary Kate Forbes ahead of her Budget announcement later this week.  It is vital that government at all levels is resourced sufficiently to work effectively and productively, even in light of the ongoing working from home arrangements. For example, it is practically impossible in some cases for our members to contact local authority staff, resulting in planning applications effectively being left in limbo as matters are left to drift. Planning relies on collaboration and communication, and staff working from home must be available to execute their duties effectively. Our members are important delivery partners and customers of this service but their ability to progress is being hampered.

“If this does not quickly improve, the housing statistics will continue to paint a bleak picture that does not reflect the actual need and demand for more homes that exists across Scotland”.

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