The Scottish Government has been challenged to come up with “solutions not excuses” after it failed to meet its target on affordable homes.
While the SNP had pledged to build 50,000 affordable houses over the course of the last parliamentary term, new figures showed that over the five years to the end of June 2021, 41,116 such properties were completed.
In the 12 months to June this year, there were 7,864 affordable new homes built, down from 8,238 the previous year and a high of 9,283 in the 12 months to June 2019.
With housebuilding work halted as a result of the initial coronavirus lockdown, ministers had already conceded they were unlikely to meet the target.
The figures were published at the same time as data showing how housebuilding across all sectors had fallen.
There were 15,852 new build homes completed in Scotland in the year to end September 2020 – a drop of 28% on the previous year.
The Scottish Government report noted this occurred after “activity levels being affected by the introduction of Covid-19 lockdown measures from mid-March to late June 2020”.
Labour housing spokesman Mark Griffin hit out at ministers over their failure to meet the affordable housing target.
He said: “These dismal figures are the result of years of incompetence – not months of paused construction.”
The MSP continued: “Building more affordable houses is key to tackling Scotland’s ever-growing housing and poverty crisis.
“Getting things back on track is essential and the government need to set out a real plan on how they’ll do this.
“The SNP must stop hiding behind the pandemic and take responsibility for their failure. We need solutions – not excuses.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “These statistics show yet again the deep impact Covid-19 has had on Scotland’s housing sector.
“We were on target to hit our target of delivering 50,000 affordable homes over the last Parliament before the pandemic required construction to be paused.
“Many builders are now experiencing difficulties with rising cost of materials and shortages in supplies and labour. Despite this, we are continuing to work with partners across the sector to deliver the remaining homes as soon as possible.”
The spokesman continued: “Scotland has led the way among UK nations with affordable housing – in the four years to 2019-20, the latest period for which comparable figures are available, we have delivered three quarters more affordable homes per head of population than England or Wales, and nine times more social rented homes than England.
“We look forward to building on this progress by delivering on our target of 110,000 more affordable homes by 2032, with at least 70% of these available for social rent.”