Scottish Council Housing Income and Expenditure 2016-17

An Official Statistics Publication for Scotland.

Statistics published today by Scotland’s Chief Statistician show that in 2016-17 Scottish councils spent £620m on the day-to-day management and maintenance of council housing and £270m on loan charges.  They also invested £685m in capital housing projects included £260m on new council houses and £375m on enhancement to existing council houses.  Tenants paid an average of £68 per week to rent their homes an increase of £2 or 3% since 2015-16.    

These figures, published today, provide the latest Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Statistics detailing councils’ housing income and expenditure in 2016-17 and forecasts for 2017-18.   Other key findings include: 

• Housing management and maintenance.   The average amount spent on the
day-to-day management and maintenance of council housing was £1,955 per house in 2016-17.

• Council houses and rents.  Council houses numbered just under 312,000 at March 2017, a decrease of around 1,600 on March 2016.  However the number of properties is estimated to increase by around 900 to almost 313,000 by March 2018.  In 2016-17 average council rents ranged from £55 per week in Moray to £94 per week in the City of Edinburgh.

• Total HRA income and expenditure.  Total HRA housing income was £1.15bn in 2016-17, of which around £620m was spent on the management and maintenance of housing and £270m on loan chargers.  This left a surplus of £225m of which £200m which was invested in housing capital projects, including new build council houses and stock enhancements. 

• Income from Housing Benefit.  In 2016-17, rent rebate subsidy for council house tenants from Housing Benefit was around £581m or 53% of total income from standard rents.  This has decreased each year since 2014-15 when it was 57%.   In 2016-17, rent rebate subsidy as a proportion of standard rents varied from 40% in Aberdeenshire to 70% in Dundee City.
• Rent arrears.  As at March 2017, rent arrears on council dwellings was £64m, up £5.5m (9%) on last year, representing 5.7% of Standard Rental Income from these dwellings.   During the same period, the number of council tenants in arrears has dropped by around 800 tenants or 1.0% to 96,650 and the number of former tenants in arrears also decreased by around 750 tenants or 2.0% to around 32,150. 

• Rent arrears written-off.  In 2016-17 budgets, councils wrote-off nearly £10.5m of outstanding rent as unrecoverable (this represents 1.0% of Standard Rental Income) which was around £2m more than the previous year (£8.6m).  

• Housing debt.  Councils spent £270m on HRA loan charges (interest, capital repayment and loan fund expenses) in 2016-17, the same as 2015-16. Total estimated council housing debt stood at £3.6bn in 2016-17 an increase of around £140m (3%) on the previous year. However the debt decreased for eight councils and was no higher for six councils.  Councils borrowed this money to improve and build council houses. Whilst council housing debt is forecast to rise to £4.2bn (up £600m) in 2017-18.

• Capital expenditure.  Councils’ housing capital expenditure was around £685m in 2016-17 (this included the HRA surplus reported above).  This included just over £375m on improvements to existing council houses (down 6% on last year from £399m) and £260m on new council houses (up 20% on last year from £215m).  This expenditure is in addition to the day-to-day maintenance referred to above.

The figures released today were produced in accordance with professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.


The full statistical publication, Excel tables, charts and definitions are available online.

The bulletin covers the period 1997-98 up to Local Authorities’ near actual spend for
2016-17.  The 2017-18 figures are budgeted estimates only and as such may be subject to change.

The topics covered in this publication include:

•  council housing stock and rents
•  council housing management and maintenance
•  council stock void losses (empty properties) and tenant rent arrears
•  council housing debt
•  capital expenditure by councils

Official statistics are produced in accordance with professional standards  – more information on the standards of official statistics in Scotland can be accessed online.

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