7 March 2013 | ByTom Loyd, Inside Housing

Scottish housing leaders have warned of the scale of the challenge for affordable housing supply in the country after figures showed a sharp drop in starts.

Scottish Government figures published this week show fewer than half the number of social homes were started in the first three quarters of 2012/13 compared with the same period of 2009/10 or 2010/11.

The figures show a 26 per cent decrease in local authority starts for 2012, down from 1,292 in 2011 to 958. Local authority completions rose 27 per cent, from 866 to 1,096.

Housing association starts increased 8 per cent in 2012, from 2,213 in 2011 to 2,388, however completions fell 27 per cent from 4,391 to 3,198.

Overall figures, which only run until the end of the third quarter of 2012, show there were 13,830 starts in the first nine months of the year, up from 12,427 in the same period of 2011. However completions fell by 4 per cent, to 15,046.

David Bookbinder, head of policy and public affairs at CIH Scotland, said: ‘The figures aren’t a major surprise because we know that the period in question coincided with the introduction of a new system for managing the affordable housing supply programme.

‘But we shouldn’t underestimate the extent to which the programme now needs to catch up. The Scottish Government’s intention is that homes planned for the current three year programme have to be started and completed by March 2015. For those involved, it will be an intensive period of new development and we look forward to seeing this activity reflected in future figures on new housing starts.’

Earlier this week deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed the allocation of £40 million of funding for around 1,000 homes, most of which are expected to be for social rent.