by Kenneth Gibb, Duncan Maclennan and Anthony O'Sullivan

Key Facts

  • Home ownership in Scotland in 1971 was 31%; in 2007 it reached 65% before falling back to 62% (2013). Private renting has more than doubled since 1997 (7%) to 15% (2013). The market now provides 77% of homes whilst the non-market share has fallen. Scottish council housing's share fell from 52% in 1971 to only 13% in 2013. Housing association dwellings were 4% of the total in 1997 and grew to 11% in 2013 (Wilcox et al., 2015, Table 17b).

  • Prior to the 2008 crisis, DCLG house price indices for 1969-2006 suggest that Scottish house prices increased more slowly and were less volatile than for the UK as a whole but like elsewhere in the UK they accelerated in the run up to the 2007-08 financial crisis (Scottish Executive 2007, Figure 1).

  • The number of Scottish households grew by 34% from 1.786 million in 1981 to 2.402 million in 2013 (National Records of Scotland).

  • The long-term building trend is downwards. In 1970 Scotland completed more than 43,000 new dwellings, which then fell annually to around 18,000 annually by the late 1980s before picking up to an annual average of 20-25,000 units until the economic crisis.

  • Homelessness applications show a steady reduction  since 2002.

  • At the end of March 2015, there were 150,000 people on local authority waiting lists across Scotland (plus a further 24,000 on transfer lists). In 2014-15, 21,000 new lettings were made by Scottish councils (Shelter Scotland). Public spending on the Scottish Governments affordable housing supply programme, which produced slightly more than 30,000 social and affordable units over the life of the 2011-16 Scottish Parliament, amounted to £412 million in 2014-15 (Scottish Government - spending on 'Supporting Economic Growth/Housing Supply'). 

  • Figure 14.1 Number of Applications for Homelessness Assistance in Scotland Source: Scottish Government (2015)

  • Housing Benefit in Scotland was claimed by 477,000 people in 2013-14 and cost around £1.8 billion (in 2014-15 prices) (Stephens et al., 2015).

  • Around four-fifths of public spending on housing policy went on supply subsidies in the 1970s. Housing Benefit in 2015 constitutes about 80% of public spending on housing (Stephens, et al., 2015).

  • The estimated annual housing need for Scotland in 2015 was 12,000 units (as set against the achieved target of 6,000 affordable units produced each year of the 2011-16 Scottish Parliament).

  • The Scottish construction employment multiplier is estimated to be around 1.9 but housing construction, maintenance and repair activity is thought to generate a relatively higher multiplier than this, because of its greater labour intensity (CCHPR, 2010).

For the full chapter, please see: Gibb, K., Maclennan, D. & Sullivan, A. (2017) Housing. In Gibb, K., Maclennan, D., McNulty, K., & Comerford, M. (eds) Scottish Economy - A Living Book. London: Routledge. Available via this link.


Figure 14.1: Homeless Applicants Per Year
- Data comes from the Scottish Government's: Homelessness in Scotland: Annual Publication 2016-17

Figure 14.3: Scottish Dwellings by Tenure
- Data comes from DCLG Live Table 107

Figure 14.4: New House Building Type in Scotland Since 1920
- All data comes from the Scottish Government's Housing Statistics