Housing statistics quarterly update: March 2022

A summary of activity in new build housing, affordable housing and long term empty properties and second homes in Scotland.

7. Notes

This document should be read along with the explanatory notes on data sources and quality can be found in the Housing Statistics webpages.

Starts and completions

The statistics break down new build construction activity into private-led and social sector starts and completions, with the social sector further broken down between local authority and housing association activity.

The figures are sourced from local authority administrative systems and the Scottish Government Housing and Regeneration Programme (HARP) system. Private sector construction activity includes not only homes built for private sale but also some homes which are used in the affordable housing sector and self-build activity by local builders.

New build information is provided for starts (when the foundations are begun) and completions (when a building inspector deems the property complete).

In general, the number of starts will be a strong indicator of the likely trend in completions over the longer term, but there may well be differences over the short and medium term depending on factors such as the housing market, economic climate, access to finance, and speed of construction.

A wide range of factors can influence the length of time it takes for a new private dwelling to be constructed, including the type of property (house, flat etc.), and the overall size of the site. Depending on the size of the site, the average time from start to completion of the entire site can range from anywhere between around 1.5 years to 2.75 years. Individual homes, or blocks of homes, might be completed in shorter timescales if parts of the site are completed in advance of the rest.

For the private sector the latest information available is for the quarter ending June 2021. Therefore headline findings for new housebuilding across all sectors are presented up to end June 2021, with other figures on social sector housebuilding presented up to end September 2021 where more recent data allows.

The figures have not been seasonally adjusted and so commentary tends to compare the latest 12 month period with the previous 12 month period, or the latest quarter with the same quarter in the previous year. Also note that some of the peaks in the number of starts in Quarter 1 (January to March) each year are generally due to greater numbers of housing association approvals being granted near the end of the financial year.

It should be noted that the amount of all-sector new housebuilding activity recorded in the quarters January to March 2020 and April to June 2020 will have been impacted by the introduction of measures to reduce the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) from mid-March to late June, in which non-essential construction activity stopped and home buyers were advised to delay moving to a new home where possible, after which there has been a phased re-start of supply activity.

Also note in that housing association new build approvals are used as a proxy for housing association new build starts due to data quality considerations, which is an approach consistent with that taken in previous publications.

Delays to new housebuilding statistics due to COVID-19, and estimates and revisions made for a small number of authorities

The Housing Statistics for Scotland Quarterly Update as at March would usually include an update on private-led and all-sector new house building starts and completions to end September, with more recent figures on social sector new builds to end December. However due to COVID-19 related delays in new build data provision last year, this publication includes figures on private-led and all-sector new house building starts and completions only up to end June 2021, with more recent figures on social sector new builds only up to end September 2021.

Given these delays in the reporting of new housebuilding trends, separate figures from the UK House Price Index on new build sales transactions are provided in Section 4 as an alternative measure of private-led new housebuilding activity in Scotland over the more recent period to end October 2021.

With this release, we have reduced the delay to 3 months, and we are working with local authorities with the aim to return usual reporting schedules by September 2022.

In addition to these delays in provision of data, the latest private-led and all-sector new housebuilding figures contain some estimates for a small number of authorities, and some revisions have been made to previously published figures.

Estimates and revisions

A number of local authorities have private-led new build data estimated due to delays in the provision of this data. These are:

  • Aberdeen City, private-led starts and completions for 2021 Q2.
  • Angus, private-led starts and completions since 2021 Q1.
  • East Dunbartonshire, private-led starts and completions since 2020 Q4.
  • Glasgow City, private-led starts since 2020 Q4 and completions since 2021 Q1.
  • Highland, private-led starts since 2020 Q4, local authority starts and completions since 2021 Q1.
  • North Ayrshire, private-led starts and completions in 2021 Q2.
  • South Ayrshire, private-led starts and completions since 2020 Q4.
  • South Lanarkshire, local authority starts and completions in 2021 Q3.

We are working with these local authorities to obtain these figures and aim to replace these estimates with actual figures in future publications.

Previous estimated starts and completions for Angus in 2020 Q4 have now been replaced with returned values.

As with previous publications, the estimates of private-led new build activity are each based on an average of the preceding four quarters, with an adjustment made to account for the lower levels of construction activity seen in particular quarters due to the impact of COVID-19, which is based on the aggregate trends from the local authorities who have provided data across the COVID-19 period.

Additional estimates have been made for local authority new housebuilding starts and completions for Highland since 2020 Q4 due to a delay in the return. Starts and completions South Lanarkshire has also been estimated for 2021 Q3. As with previous estimates for local authority new housebuilding figures, this estimate is based on separate starts and completions figures taken from the Scottish Government Housing and Regeneration Programme (HARP) system.

A number of additional historic corrections provided by local authorities have also been made, for example where more up-to-date data for activity related to previous quarters has come to light, with further details on these changes available in the Excel tables.

Further details of these revisions, along with the impact on national totals, are detailed in Tables R1a to R7b in the Supporting Charts and Tables Excel document.

For this quarterly publication, the range of new build revisions made cover a total of 22 quarters for starts and 15 quarters for completions, across the period between 2010 Q3 and 2021 Q2. The largest impacts at a local authority level have been due to private sector led historic revisions to starts figures provided by West Dunbartonshire Council for 2020 Q1 which has decreased starts by 191 homes (93.2%). For the same quarter, Dundee City reported an increase in starts of 98 (106.5%)

At the local authority level, the largest impact seen for for local authority sector homes was in 2021 Q1, where East Renfrewshire provided a series of historic revisions to this quarter, increasing the number of local authority homes started by 47 homes, compared to the original value of 14.

For this quarterly publication affordable housing supply figures for the years 2019/20 and 2020/21 have been revised to reflect minor updates to the number of units approved, started and completed in these years. Further details can be found in Tables R5a to R7b in the Supporting Charts and Tables.

Housing Statistics across the UK

Information on housing statistics developments across the UK is available on the Government Statistical Service (GSS) webpages.

This includes material such as:

  • The Cross-Government Housing, Homelessness and Planning Statistics Steering Group helps set the strategic direction for UK collaboration to improve the overall picture of housing statistics, including representatives from the devolved administrations.
  • A GSS housing and planning statistics interactive tool, which contain a searchable database of all housing and planning statistics produced by UK public bodies and devolved administrations, along with a summary of the UK housing topic landscape.
  • Topic reports on cross-UK areas such as on Affordable Housing Statistics.
  • A report on the definitions, terminology and feasibility of harmonisation of affordable housing statistics across the UK.


Email: Housing_Statistics_Inbox@gov.scot

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