THE number of houses built in Scotland fell by a third in one year, to the lowest total for eight years – with restrictions imposed in the wake of the Covid pandemic blamed for the drop.

There were a total of 15,360 homes either built, refurbished or converted in 2020-21 – down by 33% from 23,047 in 2019-20.

It was the first time since 2012-13 that the number of new homes built has fallen – with the overall total number of homes completed also the lowest since that year.

The fall reflects the “impact of Covid-19 restrictions on housebuilding”, a Scottish Government report said.

It added: “Before the pandemic, new housing supply had reached its highest point since the financial crisis in 2008, with 23,047 new homes built, refurbished, or converted in 2019-20.

“This was, however, 16% below the 27,594 new supply in 2007-08.”

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While the number of council and housing association homes increased, these rose by 0.5% compared to the 8% rise in the number of people on the waiting lists.

As of March 31, 2021, there were a total of 318,369 local authority homes across Scotland – an increase of 1461 (0.5%) on the previous year and the third year in a row this total had grown.

The number of housing association properties increased by 1539 (0.5%) to stand at 292,951 by the end of March last year.

Taken together, this means Scotland had a combined social housing stock of 611,320 properties at the end of March 2021, up from 608,320 the previous year.

However, the figures also showed that there had been 178,260 applications for housing to local authority or common housing register housing lists, an increase of 8% from 2020.

Meanwhile, the figures also showed that just 32 council tenancies were terminated over the course of 2020-21 – either due to someone being evicted or the property being abandoned.

This total was down from 1151 terminations in 2019-20, with restrictions on evictions introduced in the wake of the Covid pandemic the reason for the fall.

Scottish LibDem housing spokesperson Paul McGarry said: “This 8% increase in the length of housing waiting lists will cause many to wonder if this door will ever open for them.

“People are waiting year after year for the opportunity to move. Meantime, many are left to deal with problems like overcrowding and homes that are getting harder and harder to heat.”

He called for targets to be increased “in order to build thousands more homes for social rent”.

McGarry said: “It’s time the Scottish Government got to grips with what really matters and did more to help the thousands left languishing on waiting lists for a secure and suitable place to call home.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said that a total of 108,106 affordable homes had been built since 2007.

The spokesperson said: “Ensuring everyone has access to a safe, warm and affordable place to call home is at the heart of our ambition for a fairer Scotland.

“We continue to work closely with the construction sector, through the Construction Leadership Forum, to assess shortages of both materials and labour-facing parts of the construction sector and continue to be advised of developments in this regard, as well as any impact being seen on the Affordable Housing Supply Programme.

“We are concerned that the number of people on the housing list has risen. Key to helping address this is the Scottish Government’s commitment to delivering 110,000 affordable homes by 2032, of which at least 70% will be available for social rent and 10% will be in our remote, rural and island communities.

“The Scottish Government continues to collaborate with a wide range of housing partners to ensure the delivery of more high-quality homes to meet the need of communities across Scotland.”