Audit Scotland has released a new report on the Scottish Government's traget of delivering 50,000 homes by March 2021. The report was written before the coronavirus pandemic.
The report finds that good progress has been made towards the Scottish Government’s target to deliver 50,000 new affordable homes between April 2016 and March 2021. Of these, 35,000 will be social rented homes provided by councils and Registered Social Landlords (RSLs). By December 2019, 31,136 homes had been completed, including 20,336 homes for social rent. The Scottish Government plans to invest around £3.5 billion to meet the target. Over the first three years of the programme, it has spent around £1.9 billion. Councils and RSLs have also invested significant sums.
Audit Scotland said that councils and their partners have welcomed the increased focus and investment on housing which will help them meet local priorities. The report found that councils are generally working well with their partners, including RSLs, to plan and deliver affordable housing. Audit Scotland said that "improvements are needed in the involvement of health and social care partners. While some councils demonstrate good tenant and community involvement, this needs to be more consistent. This will help ensure the wider benefits of the sig-nificant investment are maximised".
There is evidence that the investment is allowing councils to meet some housing needs in their areas, and some evidence of wider positive benefits to tenants, local communities, and the economy. However, teh report found that there is no evidence available to show that councils’ assessments of need informed the specific numbers and tenure balance of the Scottish Government’s target. Audit Scotland said that the Scottish Government "did not clearly set out the wider outcomes it intended to achieve from its investment. This, alongside a lack of comprehensive reporting by the Scottish Government and councils on the impact of the in-vestment, means that it is not possible to demonstrate value for money".