Why ‘affordable’ only ‘really’ means affordable in Scotland


In the Guardian yesterday:

The number of new homes built for social rent has fallen by almost four-fifths in a decade, according to official figures that come as more than 1 million families are stuck on waiting lists for council housing in England. Figures released by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government show just 6,463 homes were built in England for social rent in 2017-18, down from almost 30,000 a decade ago.’

In comparing figures with Scotland, the term ‘affordable’ becomes problematic. Whereas in Scotland, it refers to low rents in an absolute sense, in England:

‘Unlike affordable rent, social rental properties also take into account local incomes as well as house prices. Campaigners have criticised the term affordable rent, saying they are still unaffordable to many people.’

An illustrative of example of this, from the London ‘borough’ of Camden:

‘According to the mayor of London the median market rent for a two-bed property in the borough is £1,998 a month – £461 a week. That means the “affordable” rent (at 80%) could be as much as £369 a week, or £19,188 a year. How could anyone on a low income afford that, particularly if they depend on benefits, given that the overall cap on benefits in London is £23,000?’


Around 57% of those built were for ‘affordable rent’, because builders can make larger profits on them, only 14% were for ‘social’ or genuinely affordable rent and the number of social rent properties being built is in decline.


From Scottish Housing News in September 2018:

‘The Scottish Government is on track to meet its target of delivering 50,000 affordable homes over the duration of this Parliament, according to statistics in two newly published reports. Figures in the Housing Statistics Annual Key Trends report show an increase of 745 homes (4%) across all sectors, from 18,683 in 2016-17 to 19,428 in 2017-18. This is the fifth consecutive increase and the highest annual figure since 2008-09. Housing association new builds increased by 382 homes (14%), local authority new builds increased by 381 homes (34%), and private-led new builds decreased by 325 homes (2%), whilst rehabilitations increased by 359 homes (60%) and net conversions decreased by 52 homes (7%).’

78,000 affordable homes have been delivered since 2007.


Comparative reports suggest that performance in Scotland outstrips that in non-Scottish parts of the UK:

SNP Government builds affordable/social housing at almost twice the rate of Tories in England

Scotland increasingly ‘streets ahead’ of England on affordable housing delivery

Independent report says Scottish Government’s 50 000 target for affordable homes is ‘within reach’ and predicts England will lose 120 000 as Tories retain right-to-buy



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