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Scottish Government urged to build on housebuilding momentum

As the level of housing completions continues to head in the right direction, the country’s home building industry has urged the Scottish Government to build on this positive news to enable it to deliver more of the homes Scotland’s growing population needs.

Official statistics released yesterday found there were 18,182 new build homes completed across all sectors over the year ending June 2018, an increase of 4%, or 695 homes, on the previous year.

The rise included increases in housing association completions (25% or 618 homes) and local authority completions (25% or 306 homes), whilst private-led completions fell by 229 homes (2%). The total number of social sector completions (housing association and local authority starts combined) increased by 924 homes (25%).

There were 19,903 all sector new build starts in the 12 months to end June 2018, a figure which is 1,121 homes (6%) higher than the number of completions in the same period, but which is a decrease of 1,231 homes (6%) on the 20,534 starts in the previous year. Private-led starts fell by 1,593 homes (11%) and housing association approvals decreased by 215 homes (4%), whilst local authority starts increased by 577 homes (48%). The total number of social sector starts (housing association and local authority starts combined) increased by 362 homes (6%).

Nicola Barclay, chief executive of trade body Homes for Scotland, said: “It’s great to see ongoing growth in the overall number of homes being built, but just under seven hundred extra homes over the last year is not going to solve our housing crisis. In order to return to the levels of a decade ago, we would need to see ten times this number on an annual basis.

“Scotland’s housing market remains amongst the most affordable places to live in the UK, and huge social and economic opportunities exist for the Scottish Government to attract further housing investment from both within Scotland and elsewhere – if it can create and maintain the favourable conditions this requires.

“Ways in which this can be achieved include ensuring the Planning Bill currently going through the Scottish Parliament meets the original objective of delivering more homes; encouraging more entrants into the industry; supporting those SMEs who want to develop more homes; preserving a regulatory environment that promotes investment and ensuring policies like Help to Buy are continued until such times that the mortgage market fully supports First Time Buyers.

“Ultimately, it needs joined-up thinking across portfolios, therefore we look forward to seeing how (this week’s) Budget supports sustainable housing growth so builders can contribute even more to Scotland’s social wellbeing and economic success.”

Housing minister Kevin Stewart welcomed the figures which also revealed a 21% rise in the number of affordable homes delivered in Scotland during the last year.

A total of 8,767 affordable homes were delivered for the year to September 2018, an increase on the 7,271 completions in the previous year.

As a result, the total number of affordable homes provided since 2007 has reached 80,104.

The figures also showed there were 5,340 social rented homes delivered, an increase of 864 homes, or 19%, on the previous year.

Kevin Stewart MSP said: “Making sure everyone has a safe, warm and affordable home is central to our drive for a fairer and more prosperous Scotland.

“That is why I am proud that this government has now delivered more than 80,000 affordable homes since 2007. This is a significant achievement – boosting the supply of affordable homes in communities right across the country.

“During the course of this Parliament we are investing more than £3 billion to deliver our target of at least 50,000 affordable, high-quality homes, including 35,000 homes for social rent.

“While we know this is an ambitious target, we have shown we can deliver on housing and we will continue to do so.”

However Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said the figures prove the Scottish Government has a long way to go to meet its 2021 housing target.

He said: “The programme to develop 35,000 new homes for social rent by 2021 is one of the most important projects on the Scottish Government’s agenda.

“The latest figures show that with half the time gone only 11,825 social homes have been completed to date. This leaves much of the target on the drawing board and means we will have to see an acceleration in building if the target is to be met.”

Graeme Brown added:  “The more homes programme is a promise to Scotland that must not be broken. It represents the biggest investment in social housing since the 1970s and a chance to begin to restore the foundations of our housing safety net which has been badly damaged by decades of underinvestment.”

Source: Scottish Construction Now

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Britain could end homelessness in a decade, claims new report

Homelessness in Britain could be eradicated within 10 years with the correct measures in place, according to a report.

Government policies needed to end homelessness have been set out in a report by charity Crisis called Everybody In: How To End Homelessness In Great Britain.

The plan has been endorsed by experts in the US, Canada and Finland, who are leading successful movements to end homelessness in their countries, Crisis said.

The report follows work with the Chartered Institute of Housing, Heriot-Watt University, the National Housing Federation, and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC).

The plan says that a national roll-out of Housing First would benefit more than 18,000 homeless people, by providing homes that come with a package of specialised support.

The plan also sets out the policies needed to support people once they are housed, including better rights and longer tenancies for private renters, and reforming housing benefits.

Ending homelessness will also require hospitals, prisons, the care system, and other parts of the state to play a role, the research finds.

Crisis said these organisations should be legally required to help prevent people leaving their care from becoming homeless.

The plan also proposes that job centres have homelessness specialists.

PwC found that, over the next decade, these policies would cost £9.9 billion and deliver benefits worth £26.4 billion, Crisis said.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “For the first time ever, we have a comprehensive plan that shows exactly how we can address the root causes of homelessness and make it a thing of the past.

“Other parts of the world are taking huge strides towards ending it, and Britain can too.

“We must not become a society that simply accepts homelessness as ‘a sad fact of life’, because the good news is that we know it doesn’t have to be this way.”

This includes people living on the streets, in cars and tents, or in unsuitable temporary accommodation.

Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s Housing spokesman, said: “It is essential that all councils are able to borrow to build new homes and adapt welfare reforms to prevent homelessness from happening in the first place.

“A genuine renaissance in council housebuilding would increase housing supply, boost home ownership and reduce homelessness.”

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said it was committed to tackling homelessness and rough sleeping, working with charities like Crisis.

“We are investing more than £1.2 billion to tackle all forms of homelessness and just last week we announced £30 million for councils to help boost the immediate support available to people living on the streets.

“We are also investing £9 billion to build more affordable homes and are piloting the Housing First approach in three major regions to get people off the streets and into stable accommodation.”

Source: Herald Scotland