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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Warning over increasing homelessness numbers in Scotland

This news post is 12 months old

Homelessness and housing need to rise as housing delivery slows to crawl, charities said. 

Three of Scotland’s leading housing organisations have issued a stark warning that Scotland faces increasing homelessness if urgent action is not taken to increase the number of affordable and social homes being built across the country.  

Shelter Scotland, the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) Scotland and the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) issued the warning following today’s publication of the Scottish Government’s latest statistics on affordable house building.  

Between 23rd March 2022 and 31st March 2023 there were 9,121 social housing completions against a target of 7,770.  

However, starts on homes for social rent are down by 18% (1,132 homes) while approvals are down by 15% (896 homes).  

The three housing organisations jointly commissioned an academic study before the last Scottish Parliament election in 2019 which demonstrated that 53,000 affordable homes- with 70% for social rent – were required to meet existing levels of need and emerging demand across Scotland.  

Following that research every party in the Scottish Parliament committed to meeting or exceeding that target. 

Today’s statistics show that the Scottish Government is not on track to meet that goal.  

Alison Watson, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “While the last 12 months have shown some modest signs of improvement, the falling number of starts will undoubtedly impact the government’s ability to meet its targets for future delivery of social housing.   

“You can’t end child poverty without ending child homelessness but unless more is done to deliver social housing, we ultimately need to plan for homelessness to get worse, a hugely worrying prospect given how broken and biased the system is already.  

“Delivering more social homes remains the only way to meaningfully tackle the housing emergency. We must invest now in delivering these homes, we can't afford to do otherwise.” 

The statistics come only a few weeks after the Scottish Government published its Mid-term Financial Review that looks again of the viability of existing spending programmes including the £3.6billion Affordable House Building Programme.  

In response to today’s statistics the three organisations will be following up with Ministers to seek assurances that affordable house building will be maintained and accelerated in light of increasing demand during the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.    

Sally Thomas, CEO, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, said: “Our social homes change lives – they lift people out of poverty, provide thriving communities and help us build a more socially just society. That’s because home is the basis for everything else, from our health, our job opportunities, and the childhoods we all deserve. However, these figures yet again make clear that we simply aren’t building them at the rate we need.  

“Put simply, we need to go much further much faster. Missing our affordable supply targets has real world, long-term impacts on lives. That’s why we need to see concerted, urgent action taken to deliver affordable homes.”