Builders ‘struggle to meet affordable homes target’

Scotland’s housebuilding sector is performing well — but may struggle to meet the Scottish Government’s ambitious target of achieving 50,000 affordable homes by 2021, according to a new report by business advisors Grant Thornton.

The report said the industry has become increasingly resilient following the global downturn in 2009, which led to thousands of job losses and stalled projects.

“On average, around 16,000 homes are built in Scotland every year,” said the report.

“The figure remains below the pre-crisis total of 21,000 per year and may struggle to meet the Scottish Government’s target of achieving 50,000 affordable homes by 2021.

“But, construction continues to support more than 60,000 jobs – both directly and indirectly.

“The industry is also playing a leading role in tackling youth employment, with around 380 new apprentices signing up every year and each new home build supporting an average of four jobs.”

While the mood in housebuilding is buoyant, there are concerns that recession fears, led in part by a potential Brexit-led consumer downturn, and a shortage of skilled labour, could create challenging conditions for businesses focused on long-term growth.

Chris Smith, Property and Construction expert at Grant Thornton in Scotland, said: “Scotland’s housebuilding sector endured some of its biggest challenges during the downturn of 2009, but it appears to have now emerged from the crash, stronger and more resilient than ever.

“The recent £655 million acquisition of Miller Homes is just one example of the recent flurry of activity.

“But, businesses don’t like uncertainty and Brexit undoubtedly raises some fears that a nervous consumer market could lead to a dip in sales and ultimately a slump in the housebuilding market.

“But, for the time being, the sector seems to be in rude health and focused on resilient, sustainable long term growth.”