Housing beyond 2021: SFHA’s emerging vision
By Sally Thomas, SFHA Chief Executive
On 4 September 2018, the Scottish Government announced a commitment to develop a vision for housing and communities in Scotland to 2040. SFHA welcomed this commitment. We took this opportunity to outline our long-term vision for housing in Scotland, and what SFHA, our members, our partners in the housing sector, and the Scottish Government will need to do in order to realise this vision.
SFHA’s long-term vision for housing in Scotland is the creation of a 'property democracy'. We believe that by 2040 everyone in Scotland should have a good home in a successful community, offering a range of high quality, affordable, safe and accessible homes that meet people’s changing needs and aspirations throughout their lives. The housing system of the future should be tenure neutral, with new models of housing created to meet a range of needs, and all tenures meeting the same high standards for energy efficiency, build quality and accessibility.
Achieving this vision is important: there is an outstanding demand for affordable housing that will continue to exist after the end of the 50,000 homes programme. Moreover, the supply of a range of quality affordable housing will play a significant role in meeting the Scottish Government’s objectives on issues from homelessness and fuel poverty to health and social care, child poverty, equality of opportunity, and sustainable growth.
We believe that the Scottish Government is already taking great steps to help achieve our vision for housing in Scotland. In our response to its recent consultation, SFHA has commended the Scottish Government on the creation of energy efficiency standards, and the provision of funding to support housing associations to improve the energy efficiency and accessibility of their homes. We have also recommended that the Scottish Government continues to fund social rent through Housing Association Grant in order to meet outstanding need, keep rents affordable, and create confidence in the sector for tenants and investors.
However, we believe that more can be done. Further support for off-site construction, the provision of accessible homes, and the development of intermediate tenures, such as Mid-Market Rent, could help the Scottish Government to ensure a well-functioning housing system into the future. Ensuring the continued high quality of our existing homes will require further investment in adaptations, while an in-depth understanding of the impact of energy efficiency and fire safety standards on rents will be required to keep homes affordable and reduce poverty. It will also be important to increase preventative spending for care in order to support people to continue living safely and independently in their homes. Finally, a continued focus on Scotland’s planning system is needed to reduce transport poverty and emissions and promote active transport and public health.
As the national body for housing associations and co-operatives in Scotland, we want to work with the Scottish Government and our members to achieve these priorities. We are supporting our members to continue to build high quality affordable housing through our partnership with the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre. Through this partnership, we are able to promote Modern Methods of Construction, including a new funding opportunity for housing associations to test new approaches and share their learning across the sector. We are also working with CaCHE, Glasgow School of Art, HACT and our members to develop our approaches to measuring the impact of housing associations on every aspect of the lives of their tenants and communities.
Finally, SFHA’s Innovation and Future Thinking Programme provides an opportunity for us to continue to work with our members, our sector partners, academics, construction and design professionals, and the Scottish Government to design and develop new approaches to support the delivery of our vision for the future.