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Building homes should be as easy as “ABC”

Increasing the supply of much needed homes to address Scotland’s housing crisis should be as easy as “ABC”.

That is the view of industry leader Nicola Barclay, Chief Executive of trade body Homes for Scotland (HFS), who addressed an audience of over one hundred senior housing sector representatives at the organisation’s Annual Conference in Edinburgh today. 

With all political parties agreeing on the fundamental national need for more homes, Barclay highlighted the challenges of translating this shared objective into housing on the ground at a local level.  

Pointing to next May’s council elections and the fact that latest annual statistics revealed a two per cent decrease in the number of new homes completed in Scotland, Barclay said:

“The factors affecting construction are many and complex, but with key challenges including planning, infrastructure, utilities and skill shortages, it is much harder than it should be to build the homes Scotland desperately needs.   

“It’s about time we started thinking of it in terms of being as easy as ABC with ‘A’ referring to ambition, ‘B’ the removal of barriers and ‘C’ for collaboration because all of us - builders, politicians and citizens alike - have an important part to play in ensuring Scotland’s future social wellbeing and economic success as well as achieving a fairer society.

“We must have a joined-up approach across all levels and departments of government if Scotland is to have enough of the homes and necessary facilities required to properly support its growing population.”  

Highlighting the fact that skill shortages affect the whole of the industry and not just traditional trades, Barclay also announced the launch of a new £250,000 Homes for Scotland Professional Skills Fund in partnership with the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB).   The fund, which will run from November 2016 to December 2017, will support the organisation’s CITB levy-paying members and is aimed at ensuring non-construction related staff (such as in sales and marketing or business development) are, like their construction counterparts, getting the required level of training to ensure the industry can deliver the homes required.

Michael Lennox, Strategic Partnerships Manager at CITB Scotland, said: 

"Scottish house builders told us that more needs to be done to address the range of skills challenges in the sector. This investment is a step towards addressing that important issue and ensuring we have the broad set of skills necessary to build the homes that Scotland needs.”

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said: 

“It is our ambition to increase housing output across Scotland. That’s why we’re investing more than £3 billion of funding to deliver our target of 50,000 affordable homes over the next five years.  Our More Homes Scotland approach supports delivery of homes across all tenures, including through Help to Buy (Scotland) and our Open Market Shared Equity scheme.

“I am determined to remove barriers to delivery. More and better partnership working and collaboration with our partners in industry will be key to delivering both that and our shared ambition of a thriving housing sector for Scotland.”

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