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Scottish housing organisations call for commitment to 53,000 new affordable homes in the next Scottish parliament

House building - Image credit: PA images

Scottish housing organisations call for commitment to 53,000 new affordable homes in the next Scottish parliament

Three national housing organisations are calling on political parties to commit to building 53,000 new affordable homes in Scotland during the next parliament if they win the 2021 Holyrood election.

The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA), Shelter Scotland and the Chartered Institute of Housing Scotland (CIH) want parties to commit to an investment of £3.4bn in house building over the five years from 2021 to 2026 to ensure that affordable housing is at the heart of social justice and child poverty programmes as well as Scotland’s recovery from coronavirus.   

The three organisations have released a joint report into housing need in Scotland between 2021 and 2026, which finds that increasing affordable housing supply levels from the current target of 50,000 homes a year to 53,000 will help to address existing and future need.

The academic study, Affordable Housing Need in Scotland Post-2021, which was carried out by specialist researchers at five UK universities, is a follow up to research produced five years ago that informed the Scottish Government’s current house building programme.

The previous study recommended building 60,000 affordable homes between 2016 and 2021 and the Scottish Government committed to 50,000 by 2021, of which 35,000 would be for social rent.

The Scottish Government has said it was on target for achieving this number before coronavirus, but housebuilding has now been delayed by the pandemic.

While the study was carried out before the pandemic, the three organisations say the effects of the coronavirus crisis mean that a commitment from all political parties to the new target is vital in order to help rebuild Scotland’s economy, create jobs and reinvigorate its communities.  

Sally Thomas, chief executive of the SFHA, said: “We acknowledge the progress the Scottish Government had made regarding housing need in Scotland since 2015, and towards meeting the existing 50,000 affordable homes target, before the programme was paused due to the coronavirus pandemic.   

“Committing to this new target, and building affordable housing, must be at the heart of Scotland’s recovery as part of a government and public sector-led approach, ensuring everyone has the home they need and, at the same time, giving confidence to full-scale economic renewal.    

“A home has never been more important. This crisis has opened everyone’s eyes to the value of a safe, warm and affordable home.

“Housing associations and co-operatives will work with the Scottish Government to continue to provide the homes that are needed as the country recovers.”  

Alison Watson, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “This research backs up what we know from our work with people who contact our services every day, desperate for a home that they can keep and that keeps them safe and well.  

“These numbers make it clear – Scotland still faces a significant backlog from years of under-investment in affordable and social housing, a legacy which leaves people facing homelessness living for months, or even years, in temporary accommodation.  

“The current affordable housing programme has brought security and stability to tens of thousands of people and hope to all who need social housing.

“To right the wrongs of the past, and to help our economy and communities recover from the pandemic, we must keep building.” 

Callum Chomczuk, national director for CIH Scotland, said: “One of the main positives to come from this crisis has been the ability of our political leaders to think differently and take radical action.  

“So, as the lock down ends, we can’t go back to business as usual.

“We need to use our experience to build back better, with an ambitious plan for affordable housing at the heart of Scotland’s economic and social recovery. 

“This isn’t the time for timidity. Politicians, from all parties, must think differently and recognise that we can choose to end homelessness, to end poverty in this country, and give everyone the right foundation for safe, secure life.

“This all starts by building the 53,000 affordable homes the country needs.”

Housing minister Kevin Stewart said: “This is welcome research as we shape our approach to housing through our Housing to 2040 work, which aims to provide the long-term certainty that people and organisations across Scotland have called for.

“The Scottish Government recognises the important role that housing plays in tackling inequality, promoting social justice and securing economic growth.”

Stewart said that more than 91,000 affordable homes had been delivered since 2007 and the Scottish Government had committed a “record investment” of more than £3.5bn in affordable housing over this parliamentary term along with £300m interim funding for 2021-22 ahead of the spending review later this year.

He added: “We remain absolutely committed to seeing more affordable and social homes delivered in communities across the country.

“The impact of COVID-19 means there has been a necessary pause in the delivery of the current 50,000 affordable homes target and once activity can safely resume, our immediate focus will be to ensure the delivery of the remainder of these homes.”

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