Concerns have been raised that the number of affordable homes being approved for build has slumped to the lowest level for ten years.

Some 6,042 homes were given the nod for grant funding in the year to the end of June as part of the Affordable Housing Supply Programme - down by 22% (1724 homes) on the 7666 approved in the previous year and the lowest equivalent annual figure since 2013.

The number of affordable homes started has also dropped in the year from 7,304 to 7,124 and is at its lowest level since 2016

But new official analysis shows there were 10,757 affordable home completions in the year - up 12% from 9,569. The Scottish Government said it was the highest annual completion figures since 2000.

But there was concern in some quarter in the number of social sector new homes being started.

There were 942 social sector new build homes completed between April to June 2023, a drop of 25% (315 homes) on the same quarter in 2022. This brought the total completions for the 12 months to end of June 2023 to 6,648, a rise of 2% (139 homes) on the 6,509 social sector new build homes completed in the previous year.

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But the number of social sector new build homes begun dropped by 36% quarter on quarter fell from to 647. Across the year there was a 26% drop.

Shelter Scotland said the data showed that ministers were choosing to "neglect" social housing according to Shelter Scotland.

The charity warned that if ministers failed to pick up the sluggish pace of social housing delivery, Scotland’s housing emergency would continue to get worse.

They say a drop in the number of new social homes approved, will "inevitably" lead to fewer homes being completed in coming years.

The figures come weeks after statistics showed more children than ever are homeless and living in temporary accommodation in Scotland.

As of March this year, 9,595 youngsters were in the system - the highest since Scottish government records began in 2002.

The Herald:

In total, there were 29,652 open homelessness cases in March, which was a 15% rise on last year.

Meanwhile, homelessness applications increased by 9% in 2022-23 while there was a 1% drop in cases being closed.

Shelter Scotland director, Alison Watson, said: “The snail’s pace of delivery demonstrates clearly that the Scottish Government has got its priorities badly wrong and is neglecting social housing.

“No minister can claim ignorance of what that means; it means more children with nowhere to call home, it means more people trapped in miserable temporary accommodation, and it means Scotland’s housing emergency continuing to devastate lives.

“There have been countless reports, working groups, and summits all telling the Scottish Government the same thing; genuine social housing is the only way to end our housing emergency.

“Other so-called ‘affordable housing’ projects won’t cut it because they will do nothing to help the thousands of people in Scotland who are homeless right now.

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“Instead of giving us the social homes we need, delivery has slowed to a crawl.

“There are no excuses for that; if this trend isn’t reversed then ministers are simply accepting that more people will inevitably experience homelessness.”

The number of all sector new built home starts has reached its lowest level since 2016, dropping by 12% (2,340 homes). There were 17,425 starts in the year to end June 2023, down from 19,765 starts in the previous year.

The Scottish Government met a target of building 50,000 affordable homes in March, last year - but it was a year later than expected.

The original timescale of delivery by March 2021 was affected by “significant challenges” presented by the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns.

The Herald: Nicola Sturgeon hit back at the storyIn September, 2021, the then First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in her Programme for Government pledged investment of almost £3.5bn in the parliamentary term to progress a "commitment" to an additional 110,000 affordable homes across Scotland. She said that at least 70% of those would be for social rent and that the investment would support up to 15,000 jobs.

She said they would be building on the investment in housing over the last parliament, to "further improve the availability of good quality, affordable, energy-efficient homes".

Living Rent secretary Aditi Jehangir said: "Every single voice on the issue is in agreement. Scotland needs more affordable housing. The government should be prioritising this at every stage: from providing funding to supporting the completion of homes. And for these homes to be truly affordable, they must be social housing.

"The failures to build social housing is pushing many tenants into poverty as hundreds of thousands struggle to afford the private rented sector. We all deserve the security and safety that comes with having a stable, affordable home. And building more social and council housing needs to be a priority."

The Herald previously revealed that the professional standards body the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) has raised concerns over cuts to the More Homes budget and warned progress on homelessness is at risk without a funding commitment over rapid rehousing in permanent homes rather than in temporary accommodation.

Housing minister Paul McLennan said: “I am pleased that the number of affordable homes completed in the latest year is the highest annual figure since 2000, supporting almost 11,000 households to have an affordable place to live.

“The combined challenges caused by a hard Brexit and economic mismanagement by the UK government have triggered various issues including the rising cost of construction supplies and workforce challenges. The housing sector has done incredible work to deliver homes in these circumstances and we will continue working with partners to mitigate these impacts. We are also making £3.5 billion available in this parliamentary term, towards the delivery of more affordable and social homes.

“Despite the challenges, since 2007, Scotland has seen over 40% more affordable homes delivered per head of population than in England, and over 70% more than in Wales. We have already delivered 13,354 homes towards our next target of 110,000 affordable homes in Scotland by 2032.”