Affordable housing should be ‘the cornerstone of Scotland’s recovery’
Building more affordable homes should be “the cornerstone of Scotland’s recovery”, 25 third sector organisations have said in a letter to finance secretary Kate Forbes ahead of the Scottish budget on Thursday.
The charities, which come from across the housing and homelessness, poverty and advocacy sectors, are calling on the Scottish Government to commit to building at least 53,000 new affordable homes between 2021 and 2026, including a minimum of 37,100 for social rent.
Alison Watson, director of Shelter Scotland said they were looking for a “clear statement of intent from the Scottish Government” in the budget.
The organisations supporting the call include Shelter Scotland, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, the Chartered Institute of Housing, Crisis, Citizens Advice Scotland, Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE), Scottish Women’s Aid, Children 1st and Energy Action Scotland.
They say that greater supply of high-quality housing will “impact directly on our health, happiness and wellbeing”.
In the letter they state that investing in more social and affordable homes will reduce child poverty, improve mental and physical health, and help Scotland to meet its climate targets in addition to reducing homelessness.
Watson 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, chief executive of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, 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, added: “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.”