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Scottish Government reports suburban homes as affordable rural housing

Houses built in Burdiehouse on the outskirts of Edinburgh have been classed as ‘accessible rural’ under the Scottish Government Affordable Housing Supply Programme, according to data supplied to Rural Housing Scotland (RHS).

RHS requested a breakdown of the 2018/19 figures after questioning why a large development at Dunbeg, three miles from the centre of Oban, had been classed as ‘remote rural’ in the 2017/18 statistics.

The latest figures reveal that Burdiehouse had been classed as rural, alongside town such as Elgin, Inverurie and Troon.

When the 283 homes built in suburban areas are removed from the government-reported statistics on affordable housing supply, only 907 out of 7,502 affordable homes built in 2018/19 were in rural areas, whereas a proportionate share would be 1,275.

RHS said this means that just 12% of the funding was allocated to areas which are home to 17% of the country’s population and which face additional challenges in meeting housing need.

“The Scottish Government defines ‘rural’ as settlements with fewer than 3,000 people, which encompasses everything from large villages in the Central Belt to a handful of houses on Unst,” explained Rural Housing Scotland chief executive, Derek Logie. “There is enough variety in there already and adding city suburbs and towns to the list of ‘rural’ developments creates a false picture of investment in rural housing.”

Mr Logie praised the recent Affordable Housing Need in Scotland Post-2021 report from SFHA, CIH and Shelter Scotland calling for the delivery of 53,000 affordable homes over the next Parliament (2021–2026) and a commitment to a capital investment programme of £3.4 billion over five years in order to tackle basic housing need and child poverty, and kick-start Scotland’s post-pandemic economic recovery.

He added: “We welcome this push and continue to advocate for better provision in rural areas to reverse population decline and develop the rural economy in rural areas. But we need to make sure that rural Scotland secures a fair share of affordable housing investment, and that starts with ensuring that the reporting accurately reflects the reality of provision in rural areas.”

In the latest of Rural Housing Scotland’s series of free webinars, Mr Logie will explore some of the many ways communities are tackling local housing need - including co-housing, custom self-build, shared equity schemes and working with housing associations. The presentation will be followed by a Q&A session.