MORE than 16,400 households in East Lothian are facing one or more forms of housing need, according to a new report.

The report, commissioned by Homes For Scotland (HFS) and carried out by The Diffley Partnership and Rettie & Co, followed a survey of 13,690 Scottish households.

It claimed that estimates of housing need calculated through the Scottish Government’s Housing Need and Demand Assessment (HNDA) tool had “significantly underestimated how many households are facing housing hardship”.

Across the local authority area, the poll found:

  • 11,000 households in East Lothian had at least one concealed household. A concealed household is defined as an individual or group of people in an existing household who wish to move out to form their own household but are currently unable to do so;
  • 4,000 households in East Lothian were living in overcrowded accommodation;
  • 1,000 households in East Lothian were living in “unfit” properties where at least one aspect was in “very poor” condition;
  • 1,000 households in East Lothian were in properties that required specialised housing adaptation or support;
  • 3,000 households in East Lothian said they were struggling financially due to high housing costs.

Government data published in August last year showed that, across East Lothian, 400 households were living in homeless temporary accommodation and 2,925 people were on the waiting list for a social home.

According to HFS, as the HNDA tool only includes those in acute need, the Scottish Government and local authorities are underestimating the true extent of Scotland’s housing need.

HFS is the sector body representing housebuilders and developers.

'No excuse'

Jane Wood, HFS chief executive, said: “Adequate housing is a human right but, today, more than a quarter of households in Scotland are in one or more forms of housing need – including 16,400 in East Lothian.

“There is simply no excuse for Scotland to continue this housing deficit trajectory.

“By utilising data to inform policies, and with public and private sectors working collaboratively and intelligently together, we have the opportunity to recognise the true extent of housing need in Scotland and to build the homes of all tenures that we need in adequate numbers and in the right places.

“As this comprehensive report demonstrates, the level of housing need far exceeds the current calculations used to determine where and how many homes need to be built in East Lothian and across Scotland.

“It provides local authorities and the Scottish Government with an effective and robust data tool to help them understand true housing need at local and national levels.

“It is our hope that, in our shared endeavour to end the housing crisis, this data will be welcomed and used by the Scottish Government, local authorities and other stakeholders to ensure that our housing needs are properly met.”

'Disastrous impact'

Paul McLennan, Housing Minister and MSP for East Lothian, said: “The Scottish Government has led the UK in housing by delivering approximately 130,000 affordable homes since 2007, over 89,000 of which were for social rent, including almost 24,000 council homes.

“We will invest £556 million in 2024-25 to increase the delivery of more affordable homes, the majority of which will be for social rent, including supporting acquisitions of existing properties.

“However, the UK Government failed to inflation-proof their capital budget, and this has resulted in nearly a 10 per cent real-terms cut in our UK capital funding between 2023-24 and 2027-28.

“This is on top of the disastrous impact Brexit has had on construction supply chain issues, labour shortages and the inflationary pressures driven by UK Government financial mismanagement.

“We remain focused on delivering 110,000 affordable homes by 2032 and to support that we will bring forward the review scheduled for 2026-27 to 2024, which will concentrate on deliverability.

“In addition, we are accelerating work with the financial community in Scotland, and elsewhere, to boost private sector investment and help deliver more homes.”

'Improve understanding'

Kenny MacAskill, East Lothian MP, told the Courier: “The need is there and the hardship and misery it’s causing is real. We need more council and social housing as a matter of urgency. Many mid-market rental properties are simply unaffordable for many. Action on holiday lets is also required. Local need must come first.”

A spokesperson for East Lothian Council said: “East Lothian Council is aware of the research conducted by Homes for Scotland.

“We use data of this kind in developing our strategies, including the Local Development Plan and our Local Housing Strategy (LHS).

“The new LHS for 2024-29 has recently been approved at Cabinet and will be adopted from April this year and reviewed annually. It is underpinned by a robust housing needs and demand assessment which has been signed off as credible from the Centre for Housing Market Analysis.

“The LHS sets out the direction for investment in housing and housing-related services across all tenures in East Lothian over a five-year period, within the context of the current financial challenges and growing population.

“The proposed strategic vision is that, by 2029, ‘people in East Lothian have access to warm, high-quality, affordable homes which meet their needs and enable them to live in communities with the support and services they require’.

“Part of the LHS action plan will be to improve understanding of housing need at a more local level to ensure we are delivering the right type of housing in the right areas.”