Charities are split on whether the Scottish Government's plan goes far enough to ensure demand for affordable homes is met
A pledge has been made to build more affordable housing in Scotland.
The Scottish Government set out its 20-year housing plan this week, which makes a commitment to build 100,000 affordable homes over the period.
Housing to 2040 will also create a single set of standards for housing quality and accessibility, no matter whether a home is owned or rented, and the introduction of a Rented Sector Strategy and Housing Bill, which aims to tackle high rents in the private sector.
Measures to make all social and local authority housing zero emissions by 2026, establishing a new fund to help local authorities bring empty homes back into residential use and a commitment to supporting housing development in rural and island areas are also included.
Sally Thomas, chief executive of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA), said: “This is an ambitious 20-year housing strategy, and there is much to commend. It is SFHA’s ambition that everyone in Scotland has a safe, warm, energy efficient, affordable home, now and in the future, and the Scottish Government’s strategy could help to realise this.
“SFHA has long campaigned for an Affordable Housing Supply Programme commitment beyond one parliamentary term in order to tackle housing need and to maintain progress, so we really welcome the priority to deliver 100,000 more affordable homes by 2032.
“It is vital that our members can also invest in their existing stock, and we are pleased to see the commitment to supporting social landlords to do so, particularly important if all homes are to meet the same quality standards in the future. We welcome the proposal to mainstream standards of accessibility in order to deliver homes that are future proof and adapt to people’s changing needs.
“We look forward to seeing further detail of the strategy’s proposals and to working with the next government to support our members to deliver great quality homes that meets people’s needs and aspirations in the decades ahead.”
However Alison Watson, director of Shelter Scotland, said the plan falls short.
She said: “This is a plan to manage the growing housing emergency rather than end it. Detailed academic research shows that only by building a minimum of 37,100 social homes over the next five years could turn the tide and start to reduce the number of people stuck waiting for an affordable home. By coming so close but, ultimately, falling short on this crucial point, the Scottish Government risks setting its otherwise bold and radical plan, up to fail.”
Watson added: “Housing to 2040 recognises that having a safe affordable home is central to how we live our lives. By committing to making housing a human right, tackling runaway rents, thinking differently about land use, levelling up standards in private renting and encouraging greater competition amongst private builders; Scottish Ministers have set a radical agenda for change. Only time will tell if that agenda can be achieved without building the minimum number of social homes we need.”
Communities secretary Aileen Campbell said: “Homes are not simply bricks and mortar. They support people’s health, wellbeing and life chances, can help to tackle poverty and climate change, and are a major investment in the economy. Housing policy is essential in helping us achieve our ambitions for a fairer, more equal Scotland.
“Housing to 2040 sets out a vision for what we want homes and communities to look and feel like for people regardless of their stage in life or where they live. It is a vision where homes are affordable for everyone, where standards are the same across all tenures, where homes have easy access to green space and essential services, and where homelessness, child poverty and fuel poverty have all been eradicated.
“We have already delivered almost 100,000 affordable homes since 2007, and before the pandemic we were on track to meet our target of 50,000 during this parliament. The pandemic interrupted the housing sector’s ability to hit this target, but we are committed to meeting it as soon as it is safe to do so. From there, we will start our new ambition to deliver a further 100,000 affordable homes by 2032.
“Our strategy shows how we will take this forward while tackling empty homes and poor housing, increasing energy efficiency and working to eradicate fuel poverty.”