Housing Statistics for Scotland Quarterly Update: New Housebuilding and Affordable Housing Supply (published 24 January 2023)

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

8. Notes

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

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 2022. Therefore headline findings for new housebuilding across all sectors are presented up to end June 2022, with other figures on social sector housebuilding presented up to end September 2022 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.

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 starts and completions for 2022 Q2
  • Angus, private-led starts and completions for 2022 Q2
  • East Dunbartonshire, private-led starts and completions since 2020 Q4.
  • Glasgow, private-led starts and completions for 2022 Q2
  • Highland, private-led starts since 2020 Q4
  • South Ayrshire, private-led starts and completions since 2021 Q4.
  • Stirling, private-led starts and completions since 2022 Q1

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

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, which is based on the aggregate trends from the local authorities who have provided data across the period in question.

For this publication, previous estimates for private led new housebuilding starts and completions in Glasgow for the period Q2 2020 to Q1 2022 have now been replaced by figures based on data provided by Glasgow for all-sector figures across this period, from which we have derived the private-led component by netting off housing association starts and completions based on separate social sector new build figures taken from the Scottish Government Housing and Regeneration Programme (HARP) system.

This has had the effect of decreasing the number of Glasgow private-led starts by 21 and increasing the number of private-led completions by 1,599 over the full period of 8 quarters, although year on year trends across these two financial years are affected by a lesser extent.

The table below shows the impacts of this change, in which it can be seen that the differences have ranged from 205 less starts to 145 more starts per quarter. For completions, it ranges between 69 and 430 more completions. This means that a Scottish level, starts are down 1% in 2020/21 compared to the previous estimates, and up 2% in 2021/22. For completions, the Scottish total is 8% higher than with the previous estimates in 2020/21, and 6% higher for 2021/22. In terms of year-on-year changes the impact has been that there have been 583 more starts in 2021/22 compared to the previous year, rather than 32 using the old estimates. For completions, this went from 49 more completions in 2021/22 compared to 2020/21, to 134 less.

Glasgow private-led starts and completions
Measure 2020 Q2 2020 Q3 2020 Q4 2021 Q1 2020/ 21 2021 Q2 2021 Q3 2021 Q4 2022 Q1 2021/ 22 Year on Year Change 20/21 to 21/22
Previous estimate - starts 48 147 161 249 605 206 141 142 148 637 32
New figure – starts 0 166 109 44 319 351 47 211 293 902 583
Difference -48 19 -52 -205 -286 145 -94 69 145 265 551
Difference (%) -100% 13% -32% -82% -47% 70% -67% 49% 98% 42% n/a
Difference (%) –Scotland level 8% 1% -1% -4% -1% 4% -2% 3% 4% 2% n/a
Difference (%) – all-sector Scotland level 5% 1% -1% -3% -1% 3% -1% 2% 3% 2% n/a
Previous estimate - completions 25 30 38 71 164 54 48 58 53 213 49
New figure – completions 120 246 468 221 1,055 123 156 391 251 921 -134
Difference 95 216 430 150 891 69 108 333 198 708 -183
Difference (%) 380% 720% 1132% 211% 543% 128% 225% 574% 374% 332% n/a
Difference (%) –Scotland level 14% 7% 11% 4% 8% 2% 4% 8% 8% 6% n/a
Difference (%) – all-sector Scotland level 13% 5% 8% 3% 6% 1% 3% 6% 5% 4% n/a

These changes bring the new set of private-led completions figures for Glasgow to be closer to separate UK House Price Index figures on the number of new build private sales transactions, which have totalled 859 in 2020/21 and 1,012 in 2021/22.

Given that data for the latest quarter 2022 Q2 in this format is still to be supplied by Glasgow, the same estimation process used for other local authorities has been used for this latest quarter, i.e. based on an average of the preceding four quarters, but now based on new data received for the previous four quarters.

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, as well as Aberdeen City and South Ayrshire for 2022 Q2. 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 webtables.

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.


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