A stark warning was issued from the housing industry amid claims the Scottish Government was not moving urgently enough on the country’s homes emergency.

In the wake of a ministerial announcement, the SNP Government was accused of failing to address uncertainty for investors over a policy that puts "some 17,000 homes at risk of not happening at all".

It seems as though the fabric of the country is also at stake as a temporary fix that now looks set to become all but permanent has stymied investment on build to rent projects where rent controls have raised questions over feasibility.

The announcement in Parliament disappointed an industry "expecting a tone of urgency reflective of Scotland's current housing situation".

Industry chiefs delivered the call: “If the First Minister isn’t willing to invest his political capital into a new approach, then existing structures simply cannot deliver the response Scotland needs.”

A direct appeal from joint representative bodies to John Swinney seemed to gain little traction.

Housing minister Paul McLennan said when he delivered his ministerial statement in Holyrood on Thursday that work to introduce a tenure-neutral housing standard would be "rescheduled” and he outlined an ambition to reduce the number of children living in temporary accommodation.

A commitment to housing as a national outcome and the potential of the housing investment taskforce were welcomed.

Rent controls remain an issue. The industry is reeling from rent controls introduced in 2022 that were to be temporary, but are now being factored in Scotland's long-term housing plan.

This has been blamed for the near halting of housing developments across Scotland, with many changed to student accommodation, which is also required, but within a housing balance.

Investors pulled out of housing deals on the day the Scottish Government announced the move.


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However, David Melhuish, director of the Scottish Property Federation, said that “the response to the housing emergency did not address the uncertainty for investors caused by the current Housing Bill”.

He told my Business Week column: “The provision in the Bill for rent control could mean a seven-eight year hiatus in rent control policy across the country, and with a potential rent freeze for five years of this period.

"It is clear that the previously reported warnings that some £3bn of housing investment covering some 17,000 homes of various tenure is now at risk of not happening at all.

 "This investment is estimated to rise to some £4.5bn of economic value over a ten-year period if it is encouraged to come forward, providing a vital boost to the Scottish economy."

He said: "If we are to get a grip on the housing emergency we must start to build more homes of all tenures, and we must remove the current uncertainty for investors that is causing so much damage to housing investment in Scotland. We need to begin by improving this Bill, and we have little time to do so if we are to recover confidence in the investment community."

Mr McLennan said during his address that “we have made huge investments to mitigate the harmful effects of UK Government policies such as the bedroom tax and the benefit cap”.

Mr McLennan also said: “We have already spent £1.2 billion over the past 14 years — almost £134 million in this year alone — and we will press the incoming UK Government to recognise the impact of the reduced budget. We will urge it to take action on mortgage availability and lending, to commit to ensuring that local housing allowance rates meet at least the 30th percentile of local rents, and to abolish policies such as the bedroom tax and the benefit cap.

“Housing has a bearing on all four of the First Ministers’ priorities.”

He also said: “We are building on the delivery of more than 10,000 affordable homes in rural and island communities between April 2016 and March 2023 through the implementation of our rural and islands housing action plan, which includes substantial mainstream investment for affordable homes, complemented by the rural and islands housing funds and the rural affordable homes for key workers fund.”

Elsewhere on my beat in recent weeks, there was good news for music fans as a planned new arena from the firm behind the UK Taylor Swift concerts got the go-ahead.

AEG Europe is now to finalise funding and appoint building contractors, with work set to start next year. It is expected that 700,000 people a year will visit the purpose-built Edinburgh Park arena to see "the world’s best artists on the Scottish stage".