26 Jan 2021
An alliance of more than 25 advocacy, support and housing organisations have today (Tuesday) written to Cabinet Secretary for Finance Kate Forbes, asking her to make social and affordable homes “the cornerstone of Scotland’s recovery” in this week’s Budget.
Independent academic research shows that to reduce housing need, Scotland needs a minimum of 53,000 new affordable homes, including at least 37,100 for social rent, between 2021 and 2026.
The organisations supporting the call include Shelter Scotland, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, the Chartered Institute of Housing Scotland, Citizens Advice Scotland, Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE), Scottish Women’s Aid, Energy Action Scotland and other housing associations, tenants’ organisations and charities.
The letter states that greater supply of high-quality housing will “impact directly on our health, happiness and wellbeing.” As well as combatting bad housing and homelessness, building more social homes will reduce child poverty, improve mental and physical health, and help Scotland to meet its climate targets.
Alison Watson, Director of Shelter Scotland said:
“In this week’s Budget, we’re looking for a clear statement of intent from the Scottish Government. The last year has shown us that providing quality housing is a matter of life and death. We can only end the housing emergency if we build enough good quality homes for everyone who needs them. This is the single most important step ministers can take towards a safer, healthier, more equal future.”
Sally Thomas, SFHA Chief Executive, said:
“A commitment from the Scottish Government to delivering the 53,000 affordable homes that Scotland needs during the next parliament is critical to ensuring the country’s social and economic recovery from Covid-19.
“Last week’s Social Renewal Advisory Board Report made recommendations for a fairer and more equal post-pandemic Scotland, including making sure everyone has access to a safe, warm, affordable home, and the government can realise this by agreeing to another ambitious housing programme.”
Callum Chomczuk, National Director of CIH Scotland, said:
“One of the only positives to come from this crisis has been the ability of our political leaders to think differently and take radical action.
“So as the vaccine is rolled out and we look towards opening up in the spring and summer, we can’t go back to business as usual. We need to use our experience to build an even more ambitious plan for affordable housing at the heart of Scotland’s economic and social recovery.
“This week’s budget isn’t the time for timidity. 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 funding the 53,000 affordable homes the country needs.”
Derek Mitchell, CEO of Citizens Advice Scotland said:
"The Scottish Government has made great progress in increasing social housing provision in Scotland, but we all recognise there's still some way to go. Citizens Advice Bureaux all over Scotland are still supporting people unable to access social housing, so we welcome and support this call from Shelter Scotland to make sure everyone who wants to, can access good social housing."
Professor Ian Welsh OBE, Chief Executive of the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE) said:
“Housing has an important influence on health inequalities in Scotland, through the effects of housing costs, housing quality, fuel poverty and the role of housing in community life. The right to affordable, safe and adequate housing has a critical part to play in improving health, enhancing life chances and transforming communities. It’s impact on social care support is also hugely significant.
“It’s vital that the Scottish Government continues to invest in an ambitious affordable housebuilding programme to meet demand and play a part in reducing health inequalities.”
Frazer Scott, CEO of Energy Action Scotland, said:
“Everyone has the right to live in a warm, dry home, to cook, to be able to wash in hot water and run the basic appliances upon which we all rely. Over 25% of households in Scotland live in fuel poverty which kills more than 2500 people in Scotland every winter. Surely we are better than this? A fair Scotland needs an ambitious programme of investment to equip people with the decent homes they need and deserve. New, affordable homes will save lives.”