Builders want ‘clear statement of intent’ on Scottish housing target

Nicola Barclay

THE Scottish housebuilding industry has urged the Scottish Government to issue a ‘clear statement of intent’ on the need to deliver 25,000 new homes of all tenures each year and to mandate public agencies to work with developers across sectors to achieve this.

Trade body Homes for Scotland (HFS) claimed this would generate greater investment confidence, which in turn would help to boost the wider economy as well as providing much needed homes.

The call is part of a package of measures submitted to the Scottish Government to ensure the longer-term sustainability of the housebuilding sector as it looks to recover from the Covid-19 crisis.

HFS chief executive Nicola Barclay said, “As the First Minister acknowledged during her Programme for Government announcement, investment in housing will make a crucial contribution to Scotland’s recovery. A number of notable steps have already been taken to assist in ongoing housing delivery (such as the lifeline £100m emergency liquidity fund for SME home builders), but further longer-term action is required if we are to ensure we can provide the homes of all tenures that Scotland needs, with all the wide-ranging benefits this brings in terms of employment, social outcomes and economic growth.

“Whilst builders may have returned to work, it is far from business as usual. Regardless of whether the properties being built are for private sale or social rent, required Covid-related measures (such as social distancing and hygiene controls) mean that fewer operatives can be on site at any one time.  This in turn means that the construction of much needed homes of all tenures is taking longer and costing more.

“This compounds the significant upfront expenditure incurred by developers to acquire land and complete construction, with cost recovery very often only achieved when the last properties are occupied. Our members are doing all they can to meet pent-up demand whilst market conditions remain stable, but this is against a backdrop of never before seen levels of uncertainty for both businesses and individuals.  That is why our calls are set out across the immediate and medium to longer term, encompassing private and social housing.

“Given its fundamental importance and strong multiplier effect, housing can be the springboard for a Scotland-wide recovery. With the appropriate Scottish Government support, we can minimise the effects of the coronavirus on housing delivery, SME builders, jobs and the economy.

“As the First Minister herself has said, we now have an opportunity to address many of the deep-seated challenges our country faces. Let’s make getting housing sorted once and for all our top priority.”