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Scotland on course for biggest growth in social housing since 1970s

Challenge now to ensure they are the right kind of homes in places where people want to live

A first of its kind independent report on the progress being made on the Scottish Government’s affordable homes target of 50,000 has shown that it is within reach over the period of this parliament. 

Leading housing bodies have commissioned independent researchers to examine the information in councils’ Strategic Housing Investment Plans. The detailed analysis shows that, at the top end of the predicted numbers of new affordable homes, 49,773 will be delivered, with a lower estimate of 45,387. New-build homes will make up 96% of the total programme. 

The report says the £3 billion affordable housing programme is the biggest undertaken since the 1970s and is set to deliver a net increase of 25,000 new homes to Scotland’s social housing stock (after demolitions or other losses are included). This contrasts with a predicted net loss of 120,000 council homes in England, where tenants still have a right-to-buy their homes.

The report points out that, while the number of homes being built looks to be close to target, it is not easy to tell whether the right type of homes are being built in the right places. The report points to this as a crucial element in determining the overall success of the programme and calls for more detail in that area.

Review of Strategic Investment Plans for Affordable Housing was commissioned by Shelter Scotland, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) and the Equality and Human Rights Commission in Scotland who welcomed the report with cautious optimism as an important next step in seeing a step-change in tackling the long-term housing shortage. 

Graeme Brown, Director of Shelter Scotland, said:

“This report is good news for the 137,100 households on council waiting lists and many others waiting for homes with housing associations. It shows that with the right political leadership, Scotland’s social housing sector is ready to rise to the challenge of delivering the largest increase in social sector homes since the 1970s.

Within our grasp, for the first time in a generation, is a significant increase in the affordable homes that so many badly need.

However, whilst the headlines numbers are very encouraging, it is not yet clear if the right sort of homes are being built in the right places where people want to live.  We need more detail and clarity on that crucial element of this programme.”

Sally Thomas, Chief Executive of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, said:

“We welcome the report’s findings which show the 50,000 affordable homes target is potentially within reach. While contributing towards this target has not been without its challenges for our members – for example, the availability and cost of land – housing associations and co-operatives have proven that when set increased targets and given additional funding, they will deliver. Sixty-six percent of the new homes will be built with an RSL as lead developer.

However, the report also found that it is difficult to fully assess what type of housing is being built and where. In order to ensure that the correct type of housing is built, for example, for people with additional support needs, and in the areas where it is needed, this must be addressed, and this report is the first step in achieving this.

While the Scottish Government’s increased target and funding is very welcome, we would like to see the government – and all political parties – commit to long-term funding of affordable housing beyond the lifetime of the current parliament if we are to ensure that we solve the housing crisis and deliver the homes that will be required by future generations. With this in mind, we are already discussing this with the government.”

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