New builds must be prioritised
A leading body has warned that Scotland’s current housing plans won’t deliver the new builds needed to end the country’s affordable homes crisis.
The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) said the Scottish Government’s Draft Infrastructure Investment Plan creates an ‘investment hierarchy’ – which prioritises maintaining and existing assets over new builds.
Instead, SFHA said a “significant programme” of house building is required during the next parliament.
SFHA is calling for 53,000 affordable homes, including 37,100 for social rent, to be delivered between 2021–2026 and for the vast majority to comprise new build properties.
The federation said that while homes can be provided by bringing existing stock back into the social rented sector, it cannot be done at the scale and pace needed to tackle Scotland’s existing and future housing need.
Sally Thomas, SFHA Chief Executive, said: “The Scottish Government has made progress towards tackling housing need in Scotland, and it is vital that this is maintained during the next parliament.
“If we are to deliver the 53,000 affordable homes which Scotland needs – and at the pace they are required – we must see a significant programme of building. Not only will this deliver much-needed homes, it will also drive economic growth, tackle poverty, create jobs and reinvigorate communities – and this social and economic stimulus will be required more than ever as we look to Scotland’s post-pandemic recovery.
“We welcome the government’s planned increase for capital funding during the next Affordable Housing Supply Programme and look forward to seeing the full details of the remaining support. It is critical that our sector is supported to build the homes Scotland needs, and to the required energy and building standards, while being able to maintain affordable rents for tenants.
“We look forward to continuing our discussions with the government regarding how we realise our shared ambition of ensuring that everyone in Scotland has a safe, warm, energy efficient and affordable home.”
It welcomed the government’s ambition to deliver sustainable green homes that contribute to Scotland’s transition to net zero greenhouse gas emissions, along with the current and planned funding for social landlords.
However, the organisation said further support will be required if housing associations are to meet the Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing (EESSH) Two and the New Build Heat Standard.
The majority of the funding (91%) to meet the current EESSH standard came from housing associations’ own reserves, at a cost of over £400 million and the investment costs required to meet EESSH2 are forecast to be significantly higher.