Edinburgh council falls short on 10,000 affordable homes pledge - Lib Dems label it 'embarrassing flop'

City council leaders are set to fall short on their promise of 10,000 affordable homes by the local elections next May, with only 5,790 due to have been completed.

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Lib Dem councillor Kevin Lang branded the performance "an embarrassing flop".

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But the SNP-Labour administration insisted that if approvals were added into the equation the target would be reached by midway through following year, meaning it was only six months late.

Under the City Plan, 35 per cent of land in any new development would be for affordable housing

The council's Strategic Housing Investment Plan, to be discussed at Thursday's housing committee, says: “In 2017 the council made a commitment to deliver a programme to build at least 10,000 social and affordable homes over the next five years, with a plan to build 20,000 by 2027.

"By the end of the 2021/22 financial year, it is anticipated that 7,500 homes will have been approved for site start and 5,790 affordable homes completed. It is expected that over 10,000 affordable homes will be approved mid way through 2023.”

The administration argues the pledge was to deliver a programme for 10,000 homes, not necessarily to complete the construction.

But Councillor Lang said the claim that approvals should count towards the total was a “cop out”.

“A house that's got planning permission does not provide walls and a ceiling that someone can live in,” he said.

“This was the number one promise when the SNP-Labour deal was agreed.

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“So the flagship promise from the SNP-Labour coalition is set to be an embarrassing flop with little over half the number of affordable homes being built compared to what was promised in 2017.

“It's yet another example of where this administration spends lots of time on strategy and promises but when it comes to delivery its actions don't match its words.”

Housing convener Kate Campbell there were extreme pressures on housing in Edinburgh and a desperate need for more affordable homes.

“There are constraints, from Brexit and Covid, which have had a severe impact on supply chains, material costs and the labour market, which are affecting housebuilding across the UK.”

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But she said the investment plan was the city’s largest ever. “It sets out a positive long-term picture and shows we are on track to deliver a programme for 20,000 affordable homes over ten years.”

And she said: “We’ll continue to work hard with our housing association partners to build more homes for social rent. But we need to look at what more we can do.

"We were the first local authority to develop an Affordable Housing Policy through planning – where 25 per cent of the land on any new development must be given for affordable housing. Now, through the City Plan, we’re proposing to increase the affordable allocation from 25 per cent to 35 per cent.

“We have a strong track record in delivering new social rented homes. This has resulted in an additional £36 million of grant funding being given to Edinburgh over the last five years. We’ll work hard to make sure this continues, alongside making the case to the Scottish Government for increased investment in social housing in our city.”

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