Housing Revenue Account (HRA) statistics: local authority housing income and expenditure 1997-1998 to 2019-2020 (near actuals) and 2020-2021 (budgeted estimates)

This annual publication provides information on trends in the balance of HRA housing income and expenditure; the amount Scottish councils earned from housing and other council stock, how they spent this income and whether there was a surplus or deficit at year end.


1. This bulletin presents statistics on Local Authority housing income and expenditure in Scotland from their Housing Revenue Accounts (HRAs) statistical returns.

2. The HRA survey data in this bulletin covers the period 1997-98 to 2019-20 (near actuals)[1] up to budgeted estimates for 2020-21 which may be revised next year.

3. Six councils transferred their housing stock to the housing association sector, the largest of these being Glasgow from 2003[2], which affect comparisons over time.

4. The requirement to separately account for the income and expenditure associated with council-owned stock in Scotland is laid out in sections 203(1) and 204(4) of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987.

5. This bulletin (tables and charts) include two data sources. Most data are based on HRA survey returns and some data are based on Local Government Capital Expenditure Returns and Scottish Government Capital Provisional Outturn and Budget Estimate (CPOBE). The HRA records mainly income from, and expenditure on, council housing.

6. If there is a surplus in the HRA i.e. HRA income exceeds HRA expenditure, this may be transferred into the councils’ housing capital expenditure accounts to be spent on a range of housing capital investment projects.

7. As authorities can borrow to fund capital expenditure, there is a clear separation between the revenue and capital accounts, and tight restrictions on how capital resources can be used. In general, this means that revenue resources can be used for both revenue and capital projects, but capital resources can only be used to fund capital projects. As such capital expenditure is separate to, and in addition to, any HRA expenditure on housing.

8. The latest Housing Revenue Account (HRA) statistical return covers the following periods; 2019-20 (actuals) and 2020-21 (estimates). The period 2019-20 therefore coincides with the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic and has continued for the reporting period 2020-21.

9. With this in mind an open commentary box was added to the survey in which Local Authorities were invited to provide any feedback about the impacts of COVID-19 on the data provided. All 26 authorities with an HRA were able to provide a survey return and the majority provided a COVID-19 commentary.

10. Authorities reported that it would be unlikely that the actual figures for 2019-20 would be affected by COVID-19 to any notable. However, they reported that the estimates for 2020-21 would be less precise than in previous years and would be subject to a greater degree change than normal when they are reported as actuals in next year’s HRA survey.

11. Some general themes which emerged from the COVID-19 commentaries about the impacts of the pandemic of the HRA statistics presented here are set out below and the relate mainly to the 2020-21 estimates. General themes include:

  • rent arrears have increased whilst at the same time there has been a suspension of debt recovery which in turn has reduced HRA income,
  • an increase in void properties due to difficulties in being able to re-let property given restricted access to properties,
  • a pause in new house building as contractors were moved-off construction sites,
  • a pause in repairs and maintenance to properties as contractors and trades people were unable to gain access to properties,
  • an increase in expenditure on cleaning and PPE.

12. Whilst it is not possible to quantify these impacts on the statistics they should be borne in mind when comparing 2019-20 actuals and 2020-21 estimates with previous years or when making any comparisons between authorities (because different authorities experienced different impacts in many cases and they were not necessarily universal).



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