Scotland is struggling to meet its affordable housing target

The Chartered Institute of Housing said progress is being made but that building will need to accelerate if 50,000 new homes are to be finished by 2021

The Scottish government is at risk of missing its 2021 affordable housing target after new figures were published showing that they were only halfway there by the end of 2018.

Ministers at Holyrood set out plans to create 50,000 new affordable homes between 2016-2021, with as many as 35,000 designated for social rent. But the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) published a new paper showing that a “sharp increase in completions” will be required if that target is to be met by the deadline.

The paper also posed questions about how Brexit is likely to impact people whose immigration status mean they are currently entitled to housing support, as well pointing out that the UK’s departure from the EU could have serious implications for funding the housebuilding scheme.

CIH Scotland director Callum Chomczuk said: “While we are pleased that the Scottish government’s commitment to affordable housing supply is providing good quality homes across the whole of Scotland, we have deep concerns about future funding arrangements.

“The 50,000 homes target represented a significant increase in funding for new homes and as we can see from the figures, it has taken the sector several years to build up the capacity to deliver homes in the volume that we need.

“We have had no indication of what funding levels will be after next year and there’s a danger that social landlords will simply have to stop building. Skilled staff will leave the sector and we will end up back where we started.

“The 50,000 homes target is just beginning to make up for loss of affordable homes through Right to Buy and planned demolitions of old stock that was no longer fit for purpose.”

The new homes scheme was devised in part to fight homelessness – but the Joseph Rowntree Foundation says the Scottish government needs to do more to fight poverty, which its new report says is rising “from an already unacceptably high level” with more people unable to afford the basics or “play a full role in society”.

The organisation’s new report shows that just over a million people in Scotland live in poverty, which is one in four children. Researchers expect poverty levels to reach 29 per cent of the population by 2023, largely because of Westminster cuts to the welfare system and state help.

Ministers in Holyrood must focus on increasing affordable housing to effectively fight poverty, the report said.

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Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said: “We want to ensure everyone has a warm, affordable home.

“That’s why we’re investing a record £3.3bn to deliver more affordable homes, and I am pleased we are on track to meet our ambitious target of 50,000 affordable homes by 2021.

“This is the sixth consecutive annual increase in the total housing supply, the highest annual figure since 2008-09, and for the first time since 1980, local authority housing stock has also increased.

“This government believes housing is a priority which is why we are proud of our record of delivering over 87,000 affordable homes since 2007.”