Associate feature: Delivering affordable housing is key to a fairer Scotland
If it wasn’t evident before, last year shone a light on the importance of our homes.
However, the pandemic also highlighted the poverty and inequality that persists in Scotland.
One of the best ways of tackling this is through the delivery of affordable housing, as not only do lower social sector rents help to reduce poverty, but building safe, warm, energy-efficient homes improves people’s health and wellbeing, creates jobs, and stimulates the economy.
Now, with a new Scottish parliament, we must put investment in social housing at the centre of Scotland’s recovery.
While progress was made on tackling housing need during the last parliament, we must ensure this isn’t lost.
It is vital that the new Affordable Housing Supply Programme delivers the number of homes the country needs – our research with Shelter Scotland and CIH Scotland found 53,000 affordable homes are required between 2021 and 2021, including 37,100 for social rent.
To support this, housing associations must also receive the right levels of grant subsidy in order to build the homes to the required quality standards, and in the locations they are needed while keeping rents affordable for tenants.
Tackling housing need and poverty and inequality during this parliament are not our only priorities.
Improving existing homes has been a longstanding challenge for our members, and this is now compounded by new higher energy efficiency measures for social landlords as well as stretching climate change targets.
While housing associations and co-operatives have the most energy-efficient housing stock in Scotland, their tenants experience higher levels of fuel poverty, compared to the rest of the population, mostly due to lower incomes.
We absolutely must do more to tackle climate change, but without increasing fuel poverty, and it is vital that social landlords are supported to do this, so their tenants do not bear the brunt of the costs of new measures such as the Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing 2.
SFHA and our members share the Scottish Government’s vision of ensuring that everyone in Scotland has a safe, warm, energy-efficient affordable home – and we must go even further this parliament to achieving it.
Sally Thomas is the Chief Executive of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations.
This article was sponsored by the SFHA.