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Vast majority of social housing tenants provided with financial support

This news post is about 1 year old

The figures were revealed by the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations.

A survey has revealed a vast majority of Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) members provide tenants with financial support and advice.

The membership body launched its Housing at Scotland’s Heart campaign in Glasgow this week, with SFHA lifting the lid on a variety of vital support offered by housing associations, from accessing social security, through to the very basics like food and fuel.

A survey of 45 housing associations, representing at least 84,743 tenants, showed 95.5% of members provide financial or welfare support to their community.

The survey also revealed 58% provide access to food banks, 58% facilitate clubs and other activities, 62% offer mental health support and 58% provide help with employability.

The findings emphasise the central role that housing associations play in supporting tenants and communities, particularly during the cost-of-living crisis.

Aidan McGuinness, director of housing and customer services at Elderpark Housing in Glasgow was not surprised by the findings.

McGuinness, whose housing association serves areas like Govan, Ibrox and Cessnock, is a firm believer in their work being about the wider community, not just the housing itself.

He said: “A lot of housing associations now have welfare services rather than previously relying on external agencies, so this data is not a surprise to me.

“Our objective and vision is to create a vibrant community where everyone can prosper - and that’s about more than housing, it’s about community.

“We are always working to improve and need to provide more.”

The survey also revealed some key themes when members were asked what support they need from the Scottish Government.

These include support to build more new homes, support to meet energy efficiency/net zero targets, and funding for improvements to existing homes. 

Hazel Farquhar, Angus Housing Association tenant and chair of the board, has felt the benefit of housing association efforts to retrofit properties in order to tackle fuel poverty and help Scotland reach net zero, as have others in her Auchmithie community.

She said: “I’ve got a very cosy home - and so does everybody else.

“It’s hard really to describe how much better it is, until such time as you’re living in it and you think it’s normal.

“We’ve gone from having night storage radiators, which were really expensive to run, to these fan-dabby-dozy air-source heat pumps with solar panels and a Tesla battery.

“That’s reduced our expense for heating the houses by a huge amount. It’s really been very exciting.

“I think it’s helped the government, the earth and right down to the tenant as well.”

SFHA’s annual conference 2023 spotlighted the incredible work of SFHA’s members, inspired new ideas and created opportunities to collaborate. Speakers included the Housing Minister Paul McLennan MSP and Cllr Susan Aitken, Leader of Glasgow City Council.

SFHA CEO Sally Thomas said: “Our housing associations are truly at the heart of Scotland, working with tenants, councils, charities, government and many others to create thriving communities which help people live well and fulfil their potential.

“In the last few years, they have shown unwavering resilience, strength and commitment in the face of continual challenges. Throughout it all, supporting their tenants has been their core focus and purpose.

“Home is the basis for everything else, from our health, our job opportunities, and the childhoods we all deserve. Continuing to make sure people have a safe, warm and affordable home is one of the biggest differences we can make to lives. That’s why housing is at the heart of Scotland.”