Claims Edinburgh will fall short of 20,000 affordable homes target

More than 2,000 former council homes in Edinburgh bought under Right to Buy laws have been resold on the open market since the turn of the century, new research has found.
More than 2,000 former council homes in Edinburgh bought under Right to Buy laws have been resold on the open market since the turn of the century, new research has found.
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Housing chiefs have been told to ramp up the delivery of affordable homes being built in the Capital amid claims the council will fall short of its target.

But council bosses have hit back at the claims by the Conservatives, insisting that affordable houses completed in 2018/19 are at expected levels.

In 2016, the city council administration committed to build 16,000 affordable homes – which was bumped up to 20,000 when the SNP became the lead coalition partner in 2017.

A freedom of Information request revealed that 1,152 affordable homes, including those available for social rent, mid-market rent and low cost ownership, were completed in Edinburgh in the 2018/19 financial year. Of these, the council’s own housing development team completed 148 affordable homes for social and mid-market rent. The council delivered 925 affordable homes in 2016/17 and 966 in the 2017/18 financial year.

Miles Briggs, Scottish Conservative Lothian MSP, said: “Affordable housing is a huge issue everywhere, but especially in Edinburgh where houses prices have been driven up because people want to live here.

“The SNP/ Labour council made a very ambitious pledge to deliver 20,000 affordable homes between 2016 and 2026, but it is clear that they are way off reaching this target. Thousands of people in Edinburgh would like to own their home, but at the moment this is not a reality because property is not affordable for a lot of people.”

He added: “If the SNP/ Labour council are serious about their commitment to 20,000 affordable homes they will have start delivering more than twice as many affordable homes each year.

“Edinburgh City Council have made some progress in the delivery of affordable homes, but are nowhere near their target of building 20,000 affordable homes by 2026. Building enough affordable homes is crucial for allowing first time buyers to get onto the property ladder and for reducing growing issues, such as families stuck in unsuitable temporary accommodation.

“Lothian has the fastest growing population in Scotland and councils in Edinburgh and the Lothians will have to increase the number of affordable homes that they are delivering each year if they are going to come close to meeting demand.”

But housing chiefs at City Chambers are adamant the figures show the authority on track to exceed their 20,000 affordable homes target. The council’s strategic housing investment plan (SHIP) reveals that 1,475 affordable homes were approved in 2017/18 and 966 were completed in the previous financial year. The plan forecasts that 3,504 affordable homes will need to be approved in the 2019/20 financial year as well as 1,578 completed homes to remain on track.

Cllr Kate Campbell, housing and economy convener, said: “Thanks to Miles Briggs for pointing out that we exceeded our target for completions by more than 10 per cent. He’s also given me the opportunity to highlight the 3,000 affordable homes that are in design and development stage, and over 2,300 that are currently being built across the city.

“I’m also amazed that an Edinburgh Tory would want to raise our housebuilding programme given that the only time affordable housing was mentioned in the Conservative manifesto for the council elections was to say they would reduce or abolish the 25 per cent affordable housing policy on a number of private developments.

“We have a desperate need for more social and affordable homes in Edinburgh. The land that comes from private development through the affordable housing project is vital for enabling housing associations to build social homes – and the Tory policy would have massively reduced the number of affordable homes getting built.”