Organisations call on more affordable home builds to support Scotland post-pandemic

THREE of Scotland’s leading housing and homelessness organisations have called on the Scottish Government to commit to delivering 53,000 affordable homes per year.

The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA), Shelter Scotland, and the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) made the request following the release of their joint a report, Affordable Housing Need In Scotland Post-2021, which looks into the housing needs of Scotland between 2021-2026.

The report found that increasing affordable housing supply levels from the current target of 50,000 homes a year to 53,000 will help to address existing, as well as newly arising, need from 2021.

The academic study is a follow up on research produced five years ago which informed the Scottish Government’s current programme. The study was carried out prior to the pandemic, but the groups said that the effects of Covid-19 mean that commitment from all political parties to rebuild Scotland’s economy, create jobs and reinvigorate its communities is ‘vital’.

As a result, SFHA, Shelter Scotland and CIH Scotland are calling on all political parties to commit to a capital investment programme of £3.4 billion over five years, ensuring that affordable housing ‘is at the heart of social justice and child poverty programmes and Scotland’s recovery from coronavirus.’

Sally Thomas, Chief Executive of 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 co-operatives will work with the Scottish Government to continue to provide the homes that are needed as the country recovers.”

Alison Watson, director of Shelter Scotland, said, “This research backs up what we know from our work with people who contact our services every day, desperate for a home that they can keep and that keeps them safe and well.

“These numbers make it clear – Scotland still faces a significant backlog from years of under-investment in affordable and social housing. 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, said, “One of the 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 lock down 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 safe, secure life. This all starts by building the 53,000 affordable homes the country needs.”