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Affordable homes can fuel Covid-19 recovery

 

The wide ranging benefits of social housing have been identified in new research

Building affordable housing should be a key part of Scotland's Covid-19 recovery, new research has said.

A new report has found that investment in the social housing sector generates economic and social benefits for Scotland and its people, including reducing poverty and homelessness, improving health, and creating jobs.

The Impact of Social Housing: Economic, Social, Health and Wellbeing was written by UK Collaborative Centre of Housing Evidence (CaCHE) and HACT for the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA), Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), Public Health Scotland, and the Rural and Islands Housing Associations Forum (RIHAF). It brings together evidence that demonstrates the impact and value of social landlords’ housing and wider services. The report also demonstrates how housing associations and co-operatives can measure the social and economic value of their work and evidence how it aligns with the Scottish Government’s national performance framework.

Building affordable housing was found to make a significant contribution to Scotland’s economy. Scotland requires 53,000 affordable homes to be delivered between 2021 and 2026, in order to meet existing and newly arising need, and the report estimates this will support inclusive growth and increase GVA by creating around 200,000 jobs, in the construction and related industries, and contributing more than £2 billion additional output per annum as well as additional Scottish tax revenues of £100 million.

The report showed that increasing affordable housing supply levels has many social benefits which can help to address inequality. Housing costs can be a financial burden for people on low and uncertain incomes, however, increasing the supply of affordable housing, with lower rents than in the private sector, was found to directly reduce child poverty in Scotland.

Increasing affordable housing supply in rural areas was found to help sustain fragile communities that are experiencing population loss. As well as offering housing at social rent levels, housing associations support rural communities by providing energy efficient housing that helps to tackle fuel poverty which is higher in rural areas. The employment and training opportunities provided by housing associations and co-operatives can also help to build more resilient rural communities.

The research also showed that good quality, warm energy efficient affordable housing may help to improve people’s physical and mental health and wellbeing.

The report’s findings showed that housing associations are increasingly letting a large share of their vacant homes to the statutorily homeless, often as part of nomination agreements with local authorities.

Sally Thomas, SFHA chief executive, said: “The impact of housing associations and co-operatives' work goes far beyond ‘just’ delivering housing – they help to create sustainable and resilient communities. Through their building programmes, as well as their wide range of services, social landlords help the Scottish Government to meet its policy objectives in health and social care, poverty, homelessness, an ageing population, employment, fuel poverty, and inclusive growth.

“Due to the effects of Covid-19, now, more than ever, SFHA is calling on the Scottish Government to recognise the social and economic contribution of housing associations and co-operatives and make building affordable housing a key part of Scotland’s recovery.”

 

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