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Housing Scotland 2019

Blog by Gordon Brown, Communications Lead, SFHA 

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‘Housing in 2040’ was one of the main themes of the SFHA’s 2019 annual conference, held on 11 and 12 June at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Glasgow.

A record number of delegates and exhibitors attended the event (over 200 delegates attended on both days and 75 exhibitors), which was opened by SFHA Chair Gerry O’Sullivan. A short film then followed which featured housing sector workers, who are under-30, from across Scotland, discussing their thoughts on housing in 2040.

“Our future is in great hands”, SFHA Chief Executive Sally Thomas told delegates before going on to give an inspiring speech, culminating with the pledge that SFHA will “be on the front foot delivering social justice”.

The keynote address was given by Professor Sir Harry Burns, who reflected on issues he had encountered during his career and urged delegates to think about health inequalities and the role social housing could play in addressing these. “We have not thought about social cohesion as a function of social policy,” he said.

Following time to network, delegates then attended one of five breakout sessions: rapid rehousing; repositioning our cultural capital; redesigning our landscape; when governance goes right; and communicating Universal Credit to millennials.

After lunch, a panel of experts – Matthew Gardiner, Head of Ideation, L&Q Group; Duncan MacLennan, Professor of Public Policy, Policy Scotland; and Ruth Glassborrow, Director of Improvement Support and ihub – shared their views regarding what the sector might be like in 2040 and set out what is needed to be done to prepare.

DWP One Service Scotland Area Director Margarita Morrison then shared her experience of her first three months in her new role and the importance of continued joint working with landlords.

There then followed five more breakout sessions: technology enabled care – the TEC Charter; designing the customer journey; building for the future; regulatory review; and using employment to tackle homelessness.

Many attendees stayed on for the conference dinner and to hear speaker John Loughton, a social entrepreneur, activist, youth worker and leadership coach.

Day two of the conference began with author Barry Knight and Fanchea Kelly, Chief Executive of Blackwood Housing Association, discussing the mismatch in supply and demand of affordable homes that meet people’s needs across their lives.

Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government Aileen Campbell MSP then gave a ministerial address, during which she announced an extra £3.5 million for energy efficiency measures for social landlords.

The third breakout session – social value and community investment; leadership; making the most of data; and the talent pipeline; and using empty homes to deliver affordable housing – was followed by lunch. Immediately after that were the fourth and final breakout sessions – asset-based community development; digital forum; development – good practice sharing; Freedom of Information, and housing solutions for disabled people.

The final plenary speaker of the conference was Adam Greenfield, a London-based writer and urbanist, before SFHA Chief Executive Sally Thomas brought the event to an end with some closing remarks.

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