Scotland has led the way in the delivery of affordable housing across the United Kingdom. Latest published statistics to the end of December 2022 show that, in the calendar year 2022, the Scottish Government supported, through the affordable housing supply programme, the delivery of 9,727 affordable homes—an increase of 1 per cent on the previous calendar year. More than 8,000 of those homes are for social rent, which takes the total number of affordable homes delivered since 2007 to more than 118,000, 70 per cent of which are for social rent.
I thank the minister for that response, which I welcome. Statistics that were released by the Scottish Government last month indicate that the number of new home starts in the last quarter of 2022 decreased by 24 per cent. The housing market is in crisis and, without any plans for how to address it, things can only get worse.
Projects are being halted due in part to Patrick Harvie’s rent freeze. Does the minister agree that the recent rent cap will negatively impact on delivery of new homes?
One of the key points when discussing the sector is cost: the cost of construction inflation and general inflation costs. Construction inflation is at 16 per cent, which has obviously impacted on delivery of homes in both the social and private sectors. That is the feedback that we have had. The feedback also tells us that the market has slowed down because of the massive increase in interest rates, which I think has been the biggest influence that we have seen in the slow-down of the housing market.
Shetland continues to have a shortage of available housing and long waiting lists for housing association and council homes. Recruitment and retention in key industries and public services is hampered by lack of available housing. The Scottish Government needs to ramp up the pace to deliver its promise to build 110,000 affordable homes by 2032. How is the Scottish Government ensuring that estimates of the number of affordable homes that are needed in rural and island areas are adjusted for the demands of growing industries being attracted to the Highlands and Islands?
Beatrice Wishart has made an incredibly important point. At least 10 per cent of the 110,000 target is to be rural housing, which is about 11,000 homes. We are working on our remote, rural and islands housing action plan. I am looking to visit as many islands and rural areas as I can, as part of my work over the summer. I would be keen to visit Beatrice Wishart’s constituency, in that regard.
As I mentioned, we have to look at the 16 per cent increase in construction costs in relation to affordability. I am working on that with officials at the moment. We will see more detailed work in the remote, rural and islands housing action plan. I am more than happy to visit Beatrice Wishart’s constituency during the next few months.
Before I move to question 2 from Bob Doris, I note that the member was not here at the start of portfolio questions. I am sure that you will wish to preface your question with an apology to the chamber.