Scotland has experienced significantly less of the brunt of the United Kingdom’s housing crisis, according to new figures released in the UK House Price Index.
Average house prices across the UK have risen by 8.4 per cent to £218,964 between August 2015 and August this year; while Scotland only experienced a 4.3 per cent increase to £144,561.
Although Aberdeen house prices have fallen by 8.7 per cent to £175,922, East Renfrewshire, which lies west of Edinburgh, where the average house price sits at £219,511, is up 12.7 per cent from the previous year.
The proportion of homeowners has subsequently fallen to a 30-year low. Despite being less directly affected by the housing crisis, analysis by the director of the National Association of Estate Agents, Mark Haywood, has uncovered that the average age of a first-time buyer in Scotland (along with the rest of the UK) over the past 20 years has risen from 25 to 35.
A multitude of reasons have been given to account for the housing crisis across the UK and specifically in Scotland.
Scottish Government statistics found that the economic downturn of 2007 was a major catalyst for pricing increases, as small and medium building firms found themselves unable to maintain substantial business.
Kenny Crawford, director of commercial services at Registers of Scotland told the BBC that changes to the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax, “are likely to have contributed to the significant increase in volumes seen in March and to the subsequent lower volumes that have followed in April, May and June.”
Holyrood is debating the issue with each of the major parties outlining their plans to combat any further increases in pricing. In an April 2016 press release the Scottish National Party pledged to build a minimum of 60,000 new, “affordable homes” by the end of the year.
Conservative leader Ruth Davidson told The Press and Journal that “when Scotland goes to the polls […] affordable housing needs to be on everyone’s mind.”
Liberal Democrat’s leader Tim Farron, who tweeted in August that the housing crisis, “is a national emergency. Wages are being squeezed”, pledged 50,000 new homes across Scotland this year; 40,000 are planned to be exclusively for social rent.
The independent Commission on Housing and Wellbeing recommend in their annual housing report in 2015 that 23,000 new and affordable houses are in vital need of being built in Scotland every year.
The report also states that: “The Scottish Government should increase the level of new building funded by Affordable Housing Investment Programme to 9,000 houses each year, over the period up to 2020. The social rented new build programme should be increased to 7,000 houses each year… and there should be a doubling of the mid-market rental new build program.”