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Programme for Government 2023-24

First Minister Humza Yousaf set out the Programme for Government this week. SFHA Chief Executive Sally Thomas described it as a “missed opportunity” to unleash the potential of social housing in tackling poverty.

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What is included: 

The First Minister laid out his government’s “anti-poverty and pro-growth" agenda today in the Programme for Government 2023-24. The most significant announcements centered on the expanded provision of funded childcare, but there were some points of note on social housing; although little that was new. 

Commenting on the announcements, our CEO Sally Thomas described the Programme for Government as a “missed opportunity”: read her full comment here.  

Prior to the Programme for Government, we had set out six key areas of action. We urged the Scottish Government to, at a minimum, reverse last year’s reduction to the Affordable Housing Supply Programme budget and fund the recently announced £60m acquisitions programme from outwith this budget. Disappointingly, the First Minister announced neither. There was also no guarantee that Mid Market Rent homes would be excluded from the private sector rent cap: although we have received assurances from civil servants that this will be considered as part of the Housing Bill, and we will continue to make that case.  

The introduction of a Housing Bill was confirmed for 2023-24. This will create the powers needed for long-term rent controls, new tenants’ rights, and previously announced new duties aimed at the prevention of homelessness.  The First Minister also confirmed the introduction of a Cladding Remediation Bill, as well as a consultation on a Heat in Buildings Bill.  

We are deeply disappointed that the Programme did not explicitly exclude social rented housing from rent controls. We are seeking urgent clarification from Scottish Government and hope this is simply an omission, given the significant unintended consequences on development, maintenance, and wider services which the sector spelt out clearly last year. 

Confirmation of £30m for the Fuel Insecurity Fund is welcome, but we would like to see this guaranteed on an annual basis alongside the Winter Hardship Fund. The Government also confirmed it would enable councils to increase council tax rates on second homes, something we supported in the recent consultation, if these funds are then used for the delivery of affordable homes. 

There was nothing specific announced on our call to act on the SNP’s manifesto commitment to introduce Land Value Capture to fund the delivery of affordable homes and allow communities to benefit from changes in land use and value. A commitment to a Land Reform Bill was announced however, which we will explore when published. 

Announced prior to the Programme for Government and in line with SFHA asks, we also welcome the Scottish Government’s recent commitment to increase the percentage of funding available to the installation of zero emission heating solutions under the Social Housing Net Zero Heat Fund from 50 to 60%, and to extend its Fabric First element until 2026. We campaigned hard for these changes and are very pleased to have been able to deliver on them. 

However, we will continue to press for the conclusion of EESH2 as quickly as possible, to provide the clarity and certainty that our members need.  

In short, we had hoped for much more. In the context of a failing housing market, increasing homelessness and rising private sector rents, social housing is more important than ever. We will continue to urge Scottish Government to work with the sector to maximise its potential for reducing poverty and reaching net zero.  

Rent Controls

We are speaking with the Scottish Government to seek clarity about with sectors these apply to. 

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