Builders welcome affordable housing increase but sound warning over materials and costs

Nicola Barclay

HOMES for Scotland (HFS) has welcomed the Scottish Government’s commitment to delivering 10,000 extra affordable homes.

However, the trade body warned of ‘deliverability concerns’ across homes of all tenures due to ongoing material shortages and cost pressures.

In its response to the Programme for Government, HFS also highlighted the impact of ‘ignoring the plight’ of first time buyers.

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.”

Barclay added that a ‘disappointing omission’ from the Programme for Government was the lack of any ‘substantial assistance’ beyond LBTT relief for first time buyers. “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,” she said. “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.”

Hannah Smith, director of ICE Scotland gave her reaction to the Programme for Government, claiming that Scotland’s infrastructure is facing a ‘resiliency crisis’.

“From transport networks to buildings such as schools and hospitals, portions of the infrastructure on which we all rely are not fit for purpose,” she added. “This problem will endure, so while commitments to end Scotland’s contribution to climate change and enhance our climate resilience are to be welcomed, there is a disappointing lack of policy detail as to how increased resiliency will be delivered.

Hannah Smith

“Our members will continue to do all they can but the Government must urgently do more to help ensure our infrastructure can withstand the challenges ahead.”