Chronic Housing shortfall in Scotland


Scotland is enduring from a “chronic” housing shortage which is now hovering at 100,000 homes, resulting in the loss of 8000 new job opportunities.

Industry body Homes for Scotland, Britain, which represents almost 200 member organisations, intends on delivering more homes for the residents, says the “housing gap” results from influential and constant undersupply since the last 14 years.


Its analysis states that for the last 14 years, Scotland has not acquired an annual requirement of 25,000 new homes.

The group says ministers must set an all-tenure target of at least 25,000 new homes each year – the lowest quantity the group believes is needed to meet present demand – considering it would provide Scotland with 8000 new jobs.

HFS’s chief executive Nicola Barclay told the current shortfall figure is 12% less than pre-2008 recession levels.

If we consider statistics for 2019, approximately 22,500 new homes were built. The study estimates the gain that could be achieved by increasing levels of competition to 25,000. They further said it would improve access to fit-for-purpose, energy-efficient housing for thousands of additional households.

It would improve education and health outcomes and will also enhance the quality of living, with an additional investment in affordable housing, community facilities and infrastructure.

It could also create 8000 additional new jobs and boost economic output by £300 million in one year.


The advantages are in addition to the £500 million already paid in developer contributions yearly for affordable housing, community facilities and infrastructure, the 79,000 jobs the home building sector presently supports, and the more than £3 billion that it give rise to in terms of economic output.

Nicola Barclay said, HFS chief executive, “Having a house is the most primary human need. Indeed, it is seen by the UN as a human right. Yet there are still too many examples of people in Scotland without a home or living in substandard accommodation.”

We all have personal examples of people we know struggling to find a home they can afford as house prices and rents continue to soar due to lack of supply. “Crucially, the standard of housing has a direct link to educational attainment and the life chances of our children. Poor housing quality also has myriad impacts on health – a heavy personal cost borne by the individuals themselves and our health service.

“As the 2019 figures show, although we have been making a slow and steady progress towards the 25,000 houses of all tenures that we believe is required, there remains a major housing gap. It is also still 12% less than pre-2008 recession levels, resulting in a cumulative undersupply approaching 100,000 homes. The impact of reduced output due to Covid and supply chain issues during 2020 and 2021 has only exacerbated this situation.”

Official figures show that the number of new build completions dropped by 35% in Scotland in 2020. A total of 4,834 all-sector new build homes were completed in Scotland in the year to end December 2020, a decrease of 35% (7,839 homes) on the previous year.

The reduction was perceived all the way to housing association completions (32% or 1,389 homes), private-led completions (37% or 6,130 homes), and local authority completions (20% or 320 homes).

The total number of newly build homes started across all sectors also decreased over the same period, with 17,883 starts, a decrease of 27% (6,680 homes) on the previous year. Private-led starts dropped by 32% (5,596 homes), local authority starts dropped by 41% (860 homes), and housing association approvals fell by 5% (224 homes).


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