Housing statistics quarterly update: March 2020

Trends in new build housing starts and completions by sector, and the Affordable Housing Supply Programme.

6. 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 Affordable Housing Supply Programme (AHSP) 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.

Comparing over time

New build figures are not seasonally adjusted and so it's not always appropriate to compare the latest quarter's figure with the previous one. In particular Housing Association approvals tend to peak in Quarter 1 of each year due to the way in which funding is allocated to these projects.

This document generally compares the latest quarter's figures with those for the equivalent quarter in previous years or it compares the latest 12 month period with the previous one.

Housing Statistics across the UK

Information on housing statistics developments across the UK is available on the Government Statistical Service (GSS) webpages at https://gss.civilservice.gov.uk/user-facing-pages/housing-and-planning-statistics.

This includes material such as:

  • A recently developed 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.
  • The Cross-UK housing statistics workplan for 2019/20
  • Recent topic reports on cross-UK areas such as on Affordable Housing Statistics, and the UK Private Rented Sector.
  • A report on the definitions, terminology and feasibility of harmonisation of affordable housing statistics across the UK.
  • Results from the April 2019 GSS Housing and Planning Statistics User Engagement Survey.


Email: Housing_Statistics_Inbox@gov.scot

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