Blog: 12,000 affordable homes: boosting Scotland’s economy, driving social justice



James Battye
James Battye

Affordable house building is a key driver of Scotland’s economy, writes James Battye, policy officer at Shelter Scotland.

For every £100 million invested in the construction buildings £210 million of economic activity is generated in the wider economy, and up to 1,270 jobs are sustained.

Strong evidence shows that affordable house building rates in Scotland should be doubled to at least 12,000 per year to meet both current and future need. Investment of this scale would generate around £2,655 million of economic activity and sustain up to 19,000 jobs per year.

These benefits can be expressed through more than just cool and clear economic thinking. Affordable housebuilding also delivers robust social and economic outcomes for thousands of people across Scotland:

  • Genuinely affordable rents reduce pressure on household budgets, in turn reducing stress and benefitting mental health.
  • Safe, secure and warm homes provide the necessary foundation for inter-generational health inequalities to be addressed.
  • And the housing system would also be better-equipped to cater to the needs of the thousands of people who experience the crisis of homelessness each year in Scotland.

Economic benefits extend to governments, too. By investing in affordable housing – with its comparatively low rents – the housing benefit bill would be reduced over the long-term.

Housebuilding can also play a role in stabilising the housing market and staving off house price volatility, too. Given the importance of property prices – to homeowners, business and social landlords – this benefit of a stable housing market is considerable.

There are, then, multiple reasons for the Scottish Government to prioritise investment in affordable house building. The economic impact is clear and is boosted by the long-term impact on individuals who need safe, secure affordable homes in which to thrive.

Ahead of the Scottish Government’s budget statement next week Shelter Scotland’s message is clear: investment in affordable housing is not just a strong driver of Scotland’s economy – it is also investment in social justice.

Download our report ‘The economic impact of investment in affordable housing’.

@JamesBattye

@shelterscotland