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Five reasons to be proud of Scotland’s housing associations and co-operatives

By Lorna Wilson, SFHA Head of Policy and Innovation.

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SFHA is incredibly proud by how our members have responded to the effects of the coronavirus. In order to keep delivering for their tenants and customers, they quickly responded by adapting and increasing the support they offer and even introducing new services.   

Here are five reasons why they have been a key part of Scotland’s response efforts and why they will be central to its recovery: 

  1. Housing associations and co-operatives are at the front line of the crisis, supporting tenants and communities to adjust to the huge challenges they face. They have mobilised people and resources quickly to respond when, and where, needed. As community anchor organisations, they have co-ordinated partnerships with charities, other agencies and volunteers to provide essential food, medicine, support and advice in communities across the country. 

  2. Housing associations are now planning for recovery and beyond – with many taking the opportunity to learn from accelerated changes in ways of working and to redesign service delivery models, including mobile and home working, new purposes for offices, focussing on proactive preventative activities, targeted and tailored data-driven support for tenants, and embedding technology enabled care and digital inclusion into mainstream service delivery. 

  3. Housing associations are playing a crucial role in an urgent, human rights-based approach to tackling homelessness, building on close working relationships with local authorities and others to move hundreds of people into safe temporary accommodation. They are key partners in the planning and provision of settled homes, with appropriate support, for the many thousands of people currently living in temporary accommodation. 

  4. Housing  associations  will be at the heart of  a public sector-led economic recovery from Covid-19. At the beginning of June, we launched new joint research with CIH Scotland and Shelter Scotland into affordable housing need in Scotland post-2021 which found that we need 53,000 affordable homes over the next parliament. The Scottish Government estimates that its current Affordable Housing Supply Programme will, ultimately, deliver 10,000 jobs in the construction and related industries and leverage economic output of £1.4 billion per year. A commitment to the new 53,000 affordable homes target will help to rebuild Scotland’s economy, create jobs and reinvigorate its communities.   

  5. The impact of housing associations’ work goes far beyond ‘just’ delivering homes. Through their building programmes, as well as their wider services, social landlords help the government to meet its social, economic and environmental policy objectives in health and social care, poverty, an ageing population, employment and education, climate change and fuel poverty, and inclusive growth. 

Our role at SFHA is to support our members to do this work, and we will continue to support them through the next stages, as we have done during lockdown, with guidance, help to access to funding, and online resources.  

To date, SFHA has produced the following resources – some in collaboration with other organisations: 

  • Guide to Restarting Services created by the Social Housing Resilience Group (SHRG) 

  • Ten SFHA Covid-19 briefings, focusing on areas of work such as governance, health and safety, care and support, and finance 

  • Created by the SHRG, Open Space is a new online platform to help organisations restart and re-design their services that allows the housing sector to share existing examples of good practice as well as to test new ideas and find solutions to challenges. 

Guidance is also being produced on: 

  • Homelessness – in collaboration with Homeless Network Scotland  

  • Equalities – this is funded by the Scottish Housing Regulator, and jointly commissioned by SFHA, the Glasgow and West of Scotland Forum of Housing Associations and ALACHO, and is due for publication in July 

  • Energy advice – due in the autumn. 

At present, some of our key areas of work include: 

  • At the beginning of August, we will be releasing a major research study into the social and economic impact of your work, which we jointly commissioned with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Public Health Scotland and the Rural and Islands Housing Associations Forum (RIHAF). 

  • We are working to understand the impact of the crisis on your businesses and developing asks to support financial resilience. 

  • SFHA is continuing to develop strong national partnerships for the benefit of our members. 

  • We are looking ahead to the forthcoming budget and the Scottish Parliament elections next year and drafting our key asks.  

If you have any questions, please email me lwilson@sfha.co.uk 

You can keep up to date with SFHA’s latest news and work by following us on Twitter @sfha_hq  


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