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No-deal Brexit could damage Scotland’s housing sector, minister warns

Scotland’s Housing Minister has warned that a no-deal Brexit could affect the country’s housing sector Photo: Joe Giddens/PA

A no-deal Brexit could cause serious problems for Scotland’s housing sector, the housing minister has warned.

Kevin Stewart will say that leaving the EU without a deal could damage investor confidence in residential assets and the build-to-rent market when he writes to housing organisations and stakeholders next week.

He will also say that inflation and interest rate fluctuation could affect rents, the financial health of Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) and the availability and cost of finance for new-build homes.

There are also concerns that house-building materials such as timber, prefabricated concrete and boilers could be more expensive and less available.

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Speaking ahead of Scotland’s Housing Festival 2019, Mr Stewart said: “The UK’s exit from the EU has the potential to impact the housing sector in Scotland and therefore our housing ambitions.

“As we strive to provide stability and certainty, our efforts are being compromised by the UK Government’s failure to acknowledge our concerns or discuss compromise alternatives.

“Some 60% of the UK’s building material imports come from the EU and we have a particular reliance in Scotland on imported timber for house building.

“Many of those employed across the housing sector are EU nationals. The extent to which we depend on EU relations cannot and should not be underestimated.”

Mr Stewart said that the Scottish Government is committed to delivering more affordable homes and is on track to deliver its 50,000 affordable homes target by 2021, backed by its investment of more than £3 billion.

It is also investing in energy efficiency improvements to existing homes, making them warmer and cheaper to heat.

He said: “We must not allow the UK Government’s approach to Brexit to jeopardise these commitments which also supports our aims to end homelessness, and reduce fuel poverty.”

Scotland’s Housing Festival 2019 takes place in Glasgow on March 12-13.

A UK Government spokesman said: “An orderly Brexit is in the UK’s best interests and the best way to achieve that is for MPs of all parties to support the Prime Minister’s deal.

“The deal is a good one for Scotland, Wales and the whole of the UK – it delivers the result of the referendum, gives us a close future partnership with the EU, and guarantees citizens’ rights.

“Refusing to support the Prime Minister’s deal simply makes a damaging no-deal more likely.”