Alliance calls for affordable housebuilding to be ‘cornerstone’ of Scotland’s Covid recovery
An alliance of more than 25 advocacy, support and housing organisations have today written to cabinet secretary for finance Kate Forbes, asking her to make social and affordable homes “the cornerstone of Scotland’s recovery” in this week’s Budget.
Independent academic research shows that to reduce housing need, Scotland needs a minimum of 53,000 new affordable homes, including at least 37,100 for social rent, between 2021 and 2026.
The organisations supporting the call include Shelter Scotland, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, the Chartered Institute of Housing, Citizens Advice Scotland, Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE), Scottish Women’s Aid, Energy Action Scotland and other housing associations, tenants’ organisations and charities.
The letter states that greater supply of high-quality housing will “impact directly on our health, happiness and wellbeing.” As well as combatting bad housing and homelessness, building more social homes will reduce child poverty, improve mental and physical health, and help Scotland to meet its climate targets.
Alison Watson, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “In this week’s Budget, we’re looking for a clear statement of intent from the Scottish Government. The last year has shown us that providing quality housing is a matter of life and death. We can only end the housing emergency if we build enough good quality homes for everyone who needs them. This is the single most important step ministers can take towards a safer, healthier, more equal future.”
Sally Thomas, SFHA chief executive, said: “A commitment from the Scottish Government to delivering the 53,000 affordable homes that Scotland needs during the next parliament is critical to ensuring the country’s social and economic recovery from Covid-19.
“Last week’s Social Renewal Advisory Board Report made recommendations for a fairer and more equal post-pandemic Scotland, including making sure everyone has access to a safe, warm, affordable home, and the government can realise this by agreeing to another ambitious housing programme.”
Callum Chomczuk, national director of CIH Scotland, said: “One of the only positives to come from this crisis has been the ability of our political leaders to think differently and take radical action.
“So as the vaccine is rolled out and we look towards opening up in the spring and summer, we can’t go back to business as usual. We need to use our experience to build an even more ambitious plan for affordable housing at the heart of Scotland’s economic and social recovery.
“This week’s budget isn’t the time for timidity. We can choose to end homelessness, to end poverty in this country, and give everyone the right foundation for a safe, secure life. This all starts by funding the 53,000 affordable homes the country needs.”
Derek Mitchell, CEO of Citizens Advice Scotland, said: “The Scottish Government has made great progress in increasing social housing provision in Scotland, but we all recognise there’s still some way to go. Citizens Advice Bureaux all over Scotland are still supporting people unable to access social housing, so we welcome and support this call from Shelter Scotland to make sure everyone who wants to, can access good social housing.”
Professor Ian Welsh OBE, chief executive of the ALLIANCE, said: “Housing has an important influence on health inequalities in Scotland, through the effects of housing costs, housing quality, fuel poverty and the role of housing in community life. The right to affordable, safe and adequate housing has a critical part to play in improving health, enhancing life chances and transforming communities. It’s impact on social care support is also hugely significant.
“It’s vital that the Scottish Government continues to invest in an ambitious affordable housebuilding programme to meet demand and play a part in reducing health inequalities.”
Frazer Scott, CEO of Energy Action Scotland, said: “Everyone has the right to live in a warm, dry home, to cook, to be able to wash in hot water and run the basic appliances upon which we all rely. Over 25% of households in Scotland live in fuel poverty which kills more than 2500 people in Scotland every winter. Surely we are better than this? A fair Scotland needs an ambitious programme of investment to equip people with the decent homes they need and deserve. New, affordable homes will save lives.”
Full letter to Kate Forbes, Cabinet Secretary for Finance
Dear Cabinet Secretary,
We are an alliance of Scotland’s leading advocacy, support and housing organisations. Working with tenants and communities across the country we understand many of the economic and social challenges facing Scotland have been exacerbated by the public health emergency, but they are not new. Scotland’s housing need was not being met before COVID-19 and the pandemic has demonstrated the critical importance of having a safe, secure and affordable home.
We are collectively calling on the Scottish Government to reduce affordable housing need by committing to a new and ambitious social and affordable housebuilding programme. Evidence from independent academics show this will require minimum of 53,000 affordable homes, including at least 37,100 for social rent between 2021-2026.
The quality of homes and communities impact directly on our health, happiness and wellbeing. Investing in the social and affordable homes Scotland needs has been shown to reduce child poverty by keeping housing costs low; improve our mental and physical wellbeing by providing people secure, quality homes from which to build their lives; and help meet ambitious climate change targets by ensuring these new homes meet the highest standards for efficiency.
We agree with the First Minister that investment in housing is also an investment in our economy, in jobs and in our communities. This is a pivotal time to invest in housing and Scotland’s future.
The Scottish Government has shown leadership having committed to build a record number of social homes over the current parliament but the need for affordable and social housing continues to rise. Homelessness and a lack of housing is not inevitable, building more social and affordable housing will help to meet the demand for housing, from those that need it most. We welcome the new standards on carbon emissions, digital infrastructure, and access to outdoor space and room for home working. However, further leadership and long-term commitment will be required to ensure there is the funding available inclusive of appropriate levels of grant funding to ensure no additional financial burden falls to social tenants to make these aspirations a reality and to reduce housing need and reduce homelessness.
We urge you to use the Scottish Budget as the opportunity to commit to reducing housing need by making social and affordable homes the cornerstone of Scotland’s recovery – rebuilding Scotland’s economy, invigorating our communities, creating more jobs, helping meet climate and child poverty targets and building a brighter future.
Alison Watson, Director, Shelter Scotland
Callum Chomczuk, National Director (Scotland), Chartered Institute of Housing Scotland
Sally Thomas, Chief Executive, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations
Alasdair Bennett, Chief Executive, Bethany Christian Trust
Dr Marsha Scott, Chief Executive, Scottish Women’s Aid
Derek Logie, Chief Executive, Rural Housing Scotland
Professor Ian Welsh OBE, Chief Executive, Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE)
Lesley Baird, CEO, TPAS Scotland
Ewan Aitken, CEO, Cyrenians
Frazer Scott, Chief Executive, Energy Action Scotland
Andy Milne, Chief Executive, SURF – Scotland’s Regeneration Forum
Phil Wray, Head of Projects, Glasgow City Mission
Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive, Crisis
John Dickie, Director of Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland
Gavin Yates, Chief Executive, Homeless Action Scotland
Maggie Brunkes, Chief Executive, Homeless Network Scotland
Tony Cain, Policy Manager, Association of Local Authority Chief Housing Officers
Tony Teasdale, Chief Executive, Shettleston Housing Association
Teresa Bray, Chief Executive, Changeworks
Andrea Finkel-Gates, Chief Executive Officer, Scotland’s Housing Network
Robina Qureshi, Director, Positive Action in Housing
Derek Mitchell, Chief Executive, Citizens Advice Scotland
Kate Polson, Chief Executive, Rock Trust
Ellinore Folkesson, National Chair, Living Rent
Etienne d’Aboville, Chief Executive, Glasgow Centre for Inclusive Living
Lesley Baird, Chief Executive, Tenant Participation Advisory Service
Mary Glasgow, Chief Executive, Children 1st
Cllr Robin Currie, Leader, Argyll and Bute Council
Janice Lyon, Chair, Castlehill Housing Association
Craig Stirrat, Chief Operating Officer, Grampian Housing Association
Maureen Smith, Housing Solicitor, Castlemilk Law Centre
Audrey Simpson, Chief Executive, Ardenglen Housing Association