With the Scottish Parliament Election just over a week away, we turn our thoughts to how the election outcome might impact the industry we work in. We go into the election knowing that, year on year, we are only building half of the homes that we need to. Although output is increasing from when it reached its lowest rate in 2012/13, we are a significant way off achieving the completion levels that we require to meet need.
What seems different about this election is that Housing is further up the manifesto agenda and all of the main parties seem to be talking about what they will do to solve the “Housing Crisis”. Is that because a strong construction industry is so intrinsically linked our national economic success? Is it because people now understand the links between quality housing and health/wellbeing? Is it because so many young people are struggling to get on the housing ladder? They are all compelling reasons and it’s likely that it’s a combination of all of these issues that have caused Housing to become a vote-winner.
Turning to affordable homes, we hear that SNP would build 50,000 new affordable homes in the next parliament, Labour say they’ll build 60,000, the Conservatives say that they will build 50,000 affordable homes as do the Lib Dems and UKIP. The Greens want to build 12,000 new affordable homes each year but also radically reform the housing sector at the same time.
These are ambitious targets indeed and exactly how we ramp up to this level of output from where we are now is going to pose a significant challenge. There is no doubt that we need more certainty over government funding for affordable homes, a more streamlined planning process and to develop flexible approaches to providing infrastructure, but it just feels like we need to do more than that. Something fundamental has to change if we are to achieve any one of these ambitious manifesto targets.
Whatever the election outcome next week, it seems housing delivery will continue to be a focus of the government going forward.