Housing statistics quarterly update: December 2021

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

This document is part of a collection

9. 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.

Comparing over time

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.

Estimates and revisions

East Dunbartonshire Council have been unable so far to provide private-led new build data for the four quarters 2020 Q1 to 2020 Q4, and so these figures have been estimated. Glasgow City Council have been unable so far to provide private-led new build starts data for the five quarters from 2019 Q4 to 2020 Q4, as well as completions figures for 2020 Q4, so these figures have also been estimated. However we are working with Glasgow to obtain these figures and aim to replace these estimates with actual figures in future publications.

In addition, estimates have been made for private-led new build starts and completions figures for Angus Council for the most recent quarter 2020 Q4 due to a delay in provision of this data, as well as 2020 Q3 for South Ayrshire. Data has now been received from South Ayrshire for 2020 Q4, but requires some work with the local authority to fully quality assure these figures.

Previous estimated starts and completions for Angus (for 2020 Q2 and 2020 Q3) and East Ayshire (2020 Q3) 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.

An additional estimate has been made for local authority new housebuilding starts and completions for Highland for 2020 Q4 and 2020 Q1 due to a delay in the return. 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 11 quarters for starts and 11 quarters for completions, across the period between 2014 Q2 and 2020 Q3. The largest impacts at a local authority level have been due to a number of private sector led historic revisions to starts figures provided by East Ayrshire Council for 2020 Q3 which has increased starts by 63 homes (170.3%). In addition, as a result of the replacement of estimated private-led figures with actual figures for Angus Council, this has increased private-led starts by 10 starts (111.1%) and decreased private-led completions by 2 completions (33.3%) in 2020 Q2, with an increase of 20 starts (54.1%) and a decrease of 8 completions (27.6%) in 2020 Q3 for Angus Council. In addition, historic revisons provided by Argyll & Bute Council have increased private-led starts in 2017 Q4 and 2018 Q1 by 2 completions (18.2%) and 4 completions (33.3%) respectively.

At the local authority level, the largest impact seen for for local authority sector homes was in 2020 Q4, where South Lanarkshire provided a series of historic revisions to this quarter, increasing the number of local authority homes started by 45 homes (86.5%). In addition, historic revisions were made to the housing association completions for East Dunbartonshire in 2020 Q4, which increased the number of completions by 11 homes (44.0%).

The most notable impacts on national level private-led figures are for the quarter 2020 Q3, in which total private-led starts are up by 83 starts (2.4%) and private-led completions are down by 8 completions (0.3%), mostly due to the replacement of estimated figures with actual figures for Angus, but also due to the historic revisions providd by East Ayrshire for 2020 Q3. The effect on all-sector starts and completions has been a 2% increase and 0.2% decrease respectively. In addition, the 45 home increase in local authority starts provided by South Lanarkshire for 2020 Q4 has increased national level local authority led starts by 15.2%, and the historic revisions to East Dunbartonshire housing association completions in 2020 Q4 has increased the national level housing association completions by 11 homes (1.5%).

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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