During COVID we have all got used to having shopping and meals delivered to our homes. Following the recent election, the question is whether the Scottish Government will deliver the new homes it has promised (25,000 new all tenure homes per year and 100,000 affordable homes by 2032) as well as decarbonisation of 1 million homes by 2030 and a new housing standard?

The last Parliamentary term brought planning reforms and a focus on infrastructure. The next five years must therefore be about delivery and implementation and all eyes will be on the newly appointed Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government, Shona Robison, and Tom Arthur, the Minister for Public Finance, Planning and Community Wealth.

Kevin Stewart, as outgoing Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning, leaves the legacy of the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 and Aileen Campbell as outgoing Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government is handing over responsibility for the delivery of the SNP's Housing to 2040 Strategy - Scotland's first long-term national housing strategy (read our bog Housing to 2040 – What does it mean for Housebuilders?). It is something of a surprise, therefore, that the planning and housing portfolio has been split.

Shona Robison as Cabinet Secretary will be supported by Christina McKelvie, Minister for Equalities & Older People, and Ben MacPherson, Minister for Social Security & Local Government, while Tom Arthur's planning role will fall under the remit of Kate Forbes, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy. So, what can those in the housebuilding industry expect to see over the next 5 years?

Housing numbers

Shona Robison has been specifically tasked with delivering 100,000 affordable homes by 2032 via a combination of new build and revitalising existing stock backed by £3.5m investment. However, what is clear is that to achieve this, support for mainstream housing is also required.

Kevin Stewart committed to the delivery of 25,000 homes (all tenure) per year during a Homes for Scotland Hustings prior to the election, but the housing targets to be included in NPF4 are still being worked on with local authorities.


At the Homes for Scotland Hustings event Kevin Stewart also confirmed that a national planning co-ordinator is intended, along with an investment of £35m over this Parliamentary Term in the digital planning system with the aim of aligning standards across Scotland so national and local policies dovetail and consistency is achieved. It was acknowledged that an increase in council funding was required to address the lack of corporate approach taken by local authorities.

Climate Change

We can expect further collaboration between Cabinet Secretaries in this area with Michael Matheson having responsibility for Net Zero. £1.6 billion is to be invested over the next 5 years to reach a target of decarbonising the heating of 1 million homes by 2030 and we can expect to see new standards for new build homes requiring the use of renewable or zero emission heating from 2024. All new homes provided by RSLs are to be zero emission by 2026. There will also be a review of energy standards through building standards.

In terms of how those targets are to be met, help will be provided by the formation of a dedicated national public energy agency which will work across sectors to co-ordinate and accelerate the delivery of heat and energy efficiency work.

Support for Home Ownership

Prior to the election, the outgoing Housing and Planning Minister was asked what the SNP would do to incentivise customers to buy new build homes. Housing to 2040 focuses on social housing and rented properties, rather than owner occupation, yet there remains a desire by many to purchase a new build home and in order to deliver the affordable housing targets, mainstream housing must also be delivered.

LBTT rates are to stay the same including First Time Buyers relief remaining, but it remains to be seen whether the First Time Buyers Fund will be continued now that the whole of the fund for 2021/2022 has already been allocated. Kevin Stewart has previously stressed that cuts from Westminster significantly impacted the schemes and that the SNP was intent on lobbying the UK Government for more financial support for this area, so it will be interesting to see the approach the new appointees take on this.

Quality of Homes

A new Housing Standard is expected by 2025. A new Scottish Accessible Homes Standards for all homes is also expected to become law within this Parliamentary term.

Community Living

This is another area where close collaboration between Cabinet Secretaries and Ministers will be required, with housing and the economy being interlinked. Tom Arthur's remit includes community wealth building (CWB) which is a people-centred approach to local economic development. Socially just use of land and property is one of the core principles of CWB.

Funding for the Scottish Land Fund is to be increased to £20m per year by the end of this Parliament to help communities take control of land and buildings that matter to them. There has also been promised a £50m investment in a vacant and derelict land programme to ensure land is utilised for maximum environmental and community benefit with a real focus on deprived areas.

For Rural Scotland 100 Island Bonds of up to £50k each for young people and families has been promised to encourage them to stay or move to islands with issues of depopulation.

Legislation for Land Value Capture is also expected where a proportion of the increase in land value is reinvested in social infrastructure and affordable housing in the local community.


Our previous blog on the Housing to 2040 strategy noted that collaboration was going to be fundamental to ensure the SNP's vision for housing is met. It is therefore pleasing to see Shona Robison's response to her appointment was that she intends to "put aside political differences and work constructively with colleagues across the Scottish Parliament and beyond".

The delivery of sufficient new homes to meet existing need and demand depends on it.