The group did not have time to consider the potential impact that the outcome of its discussions would have on the delivery of affordable homes. The delivery of affordable homes was however hit significantly by the pandemic, initially by the lock down, and then through slower, safer working practices in 2020-21. The Scottish Government therefore expects output to continue to be slower over 2021-22 than at the start of the previous 50,000 affordable homes’ programme, and therefore proposes to use 2021-22 to complete its previous 50,000 target.
The Scottish Government’s ambition to sustain the number of affordable homes delivered going forward is a major commitment to address affordable housing requirements. Housing plays a significant role in Scottish Government and local government shared policy objectives, particularly in tackling child poverty and ending homelessness. While committing to continued delivery over a 10-year period provides additional certainty, within this timeframe there may be many economic factors or events that impact on the overall housing requirement. Local authorities currently plan for housing and housing service delivery over a five-year period, and the Scottish Government would want to similarly review the 100,000 affordable homes’ commitment at the five year mid-point.
The Scottish Government is clear that any proposed changes to Affordable Housing Investment Benchmark assumptions would (a) only affect the appraisal route that an application for grant funding follows and (b) not affect the amount of grant that individual applicants assess is required. This would continue to be a decision for individual grant applicants when self-certifying that they are applying for the minimum grant necessary to allow a project to proceed once homes are designed and tender prices have been received, and to ensure ongoing rent affordability. Projects would come in both under, at and above benchmark levels given that the mix, size and type of future projects delivered in any one year is not fixed. The gradual phasing in of additional quality measures, the uncertainty over their costs over the next few years, and the impact of the continuous improvement work (see below) therefore makes it difficult to predict the exact number of homes that may be delivered at this time.