Scots housebuilding completions fall 17%

The latest housebuilding statistics published by Scotland’s Chief Statistician show that there were 19,632 homes completed and 16,404 new builds started in the 2023-24 financial year.

Completions fell 4,150 or 17% and starts fell 3,000 or 15% and were lower in 2023-24 than the previous financial year.

The private sector completed building 14,589 homes and started 12,904 new builds in 2023-24. Completions fell 2,270 or 13% and starts fell 2,420 or 16%. New build completions were the second lowest since 2017-18. Starts were at the lowest point since 2014-15 and lower than when the pandemic affected housebuilding.

The social sector built 5,043 homes and started building 3,500 homes in 2023-24. Completions fell 1,876 or 27% and starts fell 580 or 14%. Completions were the lowest since 2020-21 and starts the lowest since 2012-13.

In affordable homes in 2023-24, there were 6,981 approvals, 6,755 starts, and 9,514 completions. This includes affordable homes for social rent, affordable rent, and affordable home ownership.

There was an increase in affordable housing supply approvals (+585, 9%) and there were decreases in starts (-235, -3%), and completions (-952, -9%) in 2023-24 compared with 2022-23.

Affordable housing supply approvals were the second lowest since 2014-15, starts were the lowest since 2014-15 and completions were down from a 15 year peak reached in 2022-23.

Homes for Scotland said: “New statistics … continue to show Scotland’s housing situation is in rapid decline, with both starts and completions across all sectors falling significantly (by 15 per cent and 17 per cent respectively) in the financial year end to March 2024.

“This now represents four consecutive quarters of decline in all-sector housing starts, a key indicator of future housing completions.

“The figures are a stark reminder of the national housing emergency encompassing all tenures, with private sector starts and completions falling by 16 per cent and 13 per cent respectively between financial years 2022–2023 and 2023–2024, whilst the social sector has seen starts and completions drop by 14 per cent and 27 per cent.

“Whilst a national housing emergency was declared in May, the situation has been unfolding for years, with 2024 Q1 figures showing that all-tenure housing starts and completions are now down 55 per cent and 21 per cent against pre-recession levels (2008 Q1).”

Homes for Scotland CEO Jane Wood said: “It has now been over a month since the Scottish Government finally acknowledged the housing emergency which is crippling the social wellbeing and aspirations of the people of Scotland.

“Evidence of how deep rooted the situation is mounting all the time, not least with an additional four local authorities having now declared their own respective emergencies since the last housing statistics were published.

“On the basis of the figures released today, the people of Scotland deserve more than platitudes and excuses.  Our own research also highlights the decline of SME home builders and thousands of new homes now stalled across the country as a result of affordable housing budget cuts.

“HFS, alongside other major housing stakeholders, has set out a clear Housing Emergency Action Plan that must be addressed urgently if we are to tackle this crisis effectively.

“We and our members have tabled a range of evidenced solutions to increase the delivery of high quality, sustainable homes of all tenures at pace and stand ready to work with the Scottish Government and all others who wish to see housing supply increased to achieve this.”