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Uptick in Scotland’s affordable homes target will help Covid-19 recovery

Words: Laura Edgar
Affordable housing definition should include social homes / Shutterstock_176229827

The next Scottish Government should pledge to deliver 53,000 affordable homes over the next Parliament to reduce housing need, tackle child poverty and ‘kick-start’ the country’s economic recovery from the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. 

The call comes today from the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA), Shelter Scotland and the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) Scotland.

The groups also want the next Scottish Government to commit to a capital investment programme of £3.4 billion over five years.

Sally Thomas, chief executive at the SFHA, said: “We acknowledge the progress the Scottish Government had made regarding housing need in Scotland since 2015, and towards meeting the existing 50,000 affordable homes target, before the programme was paused due to the coronavirus pandemic.   

“Committing to this new target, and building affordable housing, must be at the heart of Scotland’s recovery as part of a government and public sector-led approach, ensuring everyone has the home they need and, at the same time, giving confidence to full-scale economic renewal.    

“A home has never been more important. This crisis has opened everyone’s eyes to the value of a safe, warm and affordable home. Housing associations and cooperatives will work with the Scottish Government to continue to provide the homes that are needed as the country recovers.”  

A report published by the organisations indicates that the increasing affordable housing supply target from 50,000 homes to 53,000 homes across the next Scottish Parliament would help to address existing and arising need. The next election takes place in May 2021.

Affordable Housing Need in Scotland Post-2021 follows research produced five years ago that informed the Scottish Government’s current programme, which was on track until the pandemic.

The study was carried out before the pandemic, but the organisations say the effects of the coronavirus crisis mean that a commitment from all political parties to the new target is “vital” for Scotland to rebuild its economy, create jobs and reinvigorate its communities.  

Alison Watson, director of Shelter Scotland, said Scotland still faces a “significant backlog from years of underinvestment in affordable and social housing”. 

“[It is] A legacy which leaves people facing homelessness living for months, or even years, in temporary accommodation. The current affordable housing programme has brought security and stability to tens of thousands of people and hope to all who need social housing. To right the wrongs of the past, and to help our economy and communities recover from the pandemic, we must keep building.” 

Callum Chomczuk, national director for CIH Scotland, added:  “One of main positives to come from this crisis has been the ability of our political leaders to think differently and take radical action.  

“So, as the lockdown ends, we can’t go back to business as usual. We need to use our experience to build back better, with an ambitious plan for affordable housing at the heart of Scotland’s economic and social recovery. 

“This isn’t the time for timidity. Politicians, from all parties, must think differently and recognise that we can choose to end homelessness, to end poverty in this country, and give everyone the right foundation for a safe, secure life. This all starts by building the 53,000 affordable homes the country needs.” 

The report can be found on the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations website (pdf).

Image credit | Shutterstock