Scottish new builds increase for first time in five years
The number of new homes being built in Scotland has risen for the first time since 2006, according to new figures.
Work was started on 13,829 properties in 2011-12, up 308 on the previous year.
It is the first time the number of new houses started has risen since 2006-07, but the total is still significantly lower than the 28,434 houses started five years ago.
The Scottish government has described the figures as encouraging.
Although the number of house being started rose, statistics showed fewer homes were completed in 2012, at 15,940, down from the 16,376 completed in 2010-11.Encouraging figures
The number of council houses finished was up 500 to 1,114, but the number of council houses started fell by more than 600.
Scotland's Housing Minister, Margaret Burgess, said: "I am encouraged with the increase in the number of houses started over the last year.
"However, we should be under no illusion that these remain very challenging times for the house building industry."
The number of housing association homes started and finished last year also fell, with 4,776 completed in 2011-12, down from 5,111 the previous year.
Associations started work on 2,175 houses, less than half the 4,656 total for 2010-11.
End Quote Philip Hogg Homes for Scotland
Any positive news is clearly welcome but the situation remains...very challenging”
Fewer homes were also built using cash from the Scottish government's affordable housing supply programme, which helps provide properties for low-cost rent or ownership, with 6,882 completed in 2011-12.Government support
This is down 5% on the previous year but is still the third highest amount since the scheme began.
Ms Burgess added: "The Scottish government is doing all it can to support the industry and boost supply.
"We will deliver at least 30,000 affordable homes during the lifetime of the parliament, backed by investment of almost £860m in the current three years.
"The rising level of new activity across the whole housing sector provides a welcome boost to our economy, creating and supporting jobs and offering new training opportunities."
Industry body Homes for Scotland voiced cautioned about the figures, suggesting that the annual build rate would remain at its lowest level since the end of the Second World War.
Chief executive Philip Hogg said: "Any positive news is clearly welcome, but the situation remains, as the housing minister herself correctly recognizes, very challenging.
"This is demonstrated by the fact that completions, which remain the ultimate measure of production, have actually fallen over the period in question."