In the aftermath of the collapse of housebuilders Stewart Milne Group, a representative of the Scottish Government assured that administrators are actively working to safeguard homebuyers left in a state of uncertainty. This announcement follows the appointment of administrators Teneo, subsequent to news emerging that 217 positions within the company were being terminated.
The Wellbeing Economy Secretary, Neil Gray, emphasized the necessity of extending “all conceivable support” to the affected parties, including staff, contractors, suppliers, and the homebuyers impacted by the sudden demise of the Aberdeen-based company. The commitment from the Scottish Government to address the concerns raised by stakeholders was expressed during a meeting with administrators and comes in response to a regional MSP’s expression of concern over the potential risk to homebuyers’ financial investments.
The MSP, a representative for the North East region, highlighted the predicament faced by buyers who had already paid deposits, were awaiting keys, or required remedial work. These individuals now find themselves in a precarious situation, with their hard-earned money hanging in the balance.
During the meeting, Gray revealed that the issue had been brought up with Teneo and mentioned ongoing discussions between the administrators and regulators, including the National House Building Council (NHBC), to find viable solutions.
“There are ongoing discussions with the NHBC and others to ensure that the challenging situation faced by people, in some cases in limbo, can be resolved,” Gray stated, acknowledging the challenging circumstances.
He added, “The timeframe for our engagement, along with Teneo, is within a 24-hour period, so there is information that is rapidly evolving.”
A representative from Homes for Scotland, an organization representing over 200 members, voiced concerns about the potential repercussions of more firms going under in the sector. Speaking on a radio program, the CEO stressed the need for urgent action from the Scottish Government.
“We are deeply concerned, and we fear that the social and economic impact is underestimated for housing. It’s a force for good, influencing all our lives. Ultimately, it’s a human right,” the CEO said, emphasizing the importance of promptly recognizing and addressing the sector’s concerns.
“Our request is for the Scottish Government to demonstrate recognition of the sector’s concerns and take prompt action – prioritizing the provision of new homes for all tenures for everyone in Scotland who wants to live and work here because it is urgently needed now,” she added, highlighting the urgency of the situation.
Teneo has communicated that there will be “no further construction” of Stewart Milne Group homes at this time and assured that individuals who have reserved a home but not yet moved in will be contacted. The administrators are actively working to provide clarity amidst the uncertainty surrounding ongoing projects.
A spokesperson for the Scottish Government acknowledged the distress this situation may cause for those impacted. The government assured that ministers have already engaged with administrators to emphasize the provision of all possible support to affected staff, suppliers, and homebuyers. The Partnership Action for Continued Employment (PACE) team is ready to provide comprehensive support to those facing redundancy.
The Scottish Government attributed the challenges faced by the housing sector, including the rising cost of construction supplies, workforce challenges, and increased mortgage costs, to a combination of Brexit and economic mismanagement by the UK Government. Despite these challenges, the government commended the housing sector for its commendable work in delivering thousands of homes in recent years and expressed its commitment to working with partners to mitigate the impacts in 2024.