Income from Scots council housing is £1.2bn

The Scottish Government said statistics published on Tuesday by Scotland’s Chief Statistician show income from council houses was £1.21 billion in 2018-19.

Of this, around £656 million was spent on housing management and maintenance and £277 million on loan charges.

The surplus of £234 million “was invested in housing capital projects, including new build council houses and enhancing existing stock,” said the Scottish Government.

In 2018-19, rent rebate subsidy for council house tenants from housing benefit was around £519 million or 45% of total income from standard rents.

“This has decreased each year since 2014-15 when it was 57%,” said the Scottish Government.

“In 2018-19 rent rebate subsidy as a proportion of standard rents varied from 30% in East Lothian and the Shetland Islands to 60% in Renfrewshire.”

Provisional estimates show councils invested £738 million in housing capital projects including £286 million on new council houses and £389 million on enhancement to existing council houses.

There were 311,240 council houses in Scotland in March 2019 — an increase of around 1,100 houses since March 2018.

This is forecast to increase by 1,300 by March 2020.

These figures provide the latest Housing Revenue Account (HRA) statistics detailing councils’ housing income and expenditure in 2018-19 and estimates for 2019-20.

In 2018-19 average council rents ranged from £60 per week in Moray to £97 per week in the City of Edinburgh.

Tenants paid an average of £72 per week to rent their homes in 2018-19, an increase of just over £2 or 3% per week since 2017-18.   

In March 2019, rent arrears on all council properties was £74 million, up £9.0 million (14.0%) on last year.

This increase represents 6.2% of the total income from council properties.

During the same period, the number of council tenants in arrears has increased by around 2,940 tenants or 3% to 102,702 and the number of former tenants in arrears decreased by around 2,180 tenants or 7% to around 30,400.

In 2018-19 budgets, councils wrote off nearly £10.8 million of outstanding rent as unrecoverable, compared to £10.1 million in the previous year.

The full statistical publication, Excel tables, charts and definitions can be accessed online.