MINSTERS are being accused of “massaging some figures” to enhance their housing progress after including an Edinburgh project as part of its investment in rural affordable homes. 

Homes built in the Birdiehouse area, in the south of the capital, have been labelled as “accessible rural” under the Scottish Government’s affordable housing supply programme, along with homes in towns including Troon, Ayrshire, and Elgin, Moray. 

Calls have been made for rural communities to be given their fair share of affordable housing investment by the Scottish Government. 

Shelter Scotland has called on politicians drawing up manifestos for next year’s Scottish Parliament election to commit to building 53,000 affordable homes between 2021 and 2026 – with a capital investment programme of £3.4 billion over the five-year period. 

A report drawn up by Shelter Scotland in collaboration with the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations and the Chartered Institute of Housing Scotland, has warned “most house completions classified as rural by the Scottish Government were actually built in small towns or urban areas”. 

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Rural Housing Scotland (RHS) found that in 2016-17, only 28 per cent of “so-called rural completions” actually happened in areas of less than 3,000 inhabitants. 

RHS has now found that when the 283 homes built in suburban areas from Government statistics for 2018-19, only 907 out of 7,502 affordable homes built that year were in rural areas – meaning just 12% of the funding was allocated to rural areas. 

Derek Logie, chief executive of RHS, said: “The Scottish Government defines rural as settlements with fewer than 3,000 people, which encompasses everything from large villages in the Central Belt to a handful of houses on Unst. There is enough variety in there already and adding city suburbs and towns to the list of rural developments creates a false picture of investment in rural housing.” 

Shelter’s research has acknowledged the Covid-19 pandemic will make the need for affordable housing even more important for a large number of people. 

It adds: “The virus has had a profound immediate impact on the role of housing in the lives of Scotland’s population.  

“For many it has become the site of work and education for the first time, or the site of furlough. For many, concerns around affordability and tenure security have been introduced or enhanced. Housing has become a place of forced containment for the majority of the population. Covid-19 has highlighted the significance of every household having access to high quality and affordable housing.” 

Mr Logie has backed the calls for further investment to be handed over to support affordable housing projects. 

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Shadow communities secretary Graham Simpson said: “This looks very much like the Government has been massaging some figures to make their record on affordable rural housing look better. It was well known that the SNP were on course to miss their affordable housing by some measure across the board. These kinds of shenanigans show even they are aware of that fact.” 

A Government spokesman said: “The Government uses the six-fold urban rural classification when categorising homes delivered through the affordable housing programme (AHSP), based on information provided by AHSP grant applicants. 

“We recognise that good quality, affordable housing is essential to help attract and retain people in Scotland’s rural and island communities. Our affordable housing supply programme, which includes the rural and islands housing funds, provides flexible solutions for the delivery of more affordable homes for rent or purchase in rural and island areas.

“We have committed more than £3.5bn in affordable housing over this parliamentary term.”