Blog: Challenges in 2018 as we look to build the homes we need

Ashley Campbell

Housing delivery, homelessness, standards and much more – as we enter 2018, CIH Scotland policy expert Ashley Campbell explores what to look out for.

With just over three years to go until the March 2021 deadline for the delivery of the Scottish Government’s promised 50,000 affordable homes, 2018 is set to be all about maximising development.

The Draft Budget for 2018/19 published in December increased the housing budget from £739 million to £891m, £756m of which will be used to support increased development of affordable housing. But we know it’s not all about the money, issues of land supply and the planning system will continue to be hotly debated over the next year.

A new Scottish Land Commission was established last year to provide direction, leadership and strategic thought to land reform. Their first publication The housing land market in Scotland: A discussion paper puts forward some interesting options for reform including use of taxation, land value capture and compulsory sales. Some of these ideas will no doubt be reflected in the housing sector’ s response to the Planning Bill which is currently making its way through Parliament.

The Bill includes provision for the establishment of an infrastructure levy, the details of which will be developed over the coming year, as well as revisions to simplified planning zones and compulsory purchase orders. The big question will be whether the measures within the Bill are radical enough to make real changes to how we deliver homes and infrastructure.

With regards to existing homes, the issues of property condition, energy efficiency and fuel poverty have been gaining momentum. During 2018, the Scottish Government will be refining ideas around introducing a minimum energy efficiency standard in the private rented sector (PRS) and possibly for owner occupiers. A new fuel poverty definition is under consideration as well as a new statutory target to be set within a Warm Homes Bill expected in the summer.

Tackling homelessness will remain front and centre in 2018 with the final recommendations of the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group due by May. The Scottish Government has pledged £50 million over five years to eradicate rough sleeping and transform the use of temporary accommodation in Scotland.

The new Private Residential Tenancy was introduced in December, replacing assured and short assured tenancies for private tenants in Scotland. It will take some time for the new regime to become established but the intention is to create better security for tenants, more stable rents and improved standards of management and property conditions. 2018 will see further reform in the PRS with the establishment of a register for all letting agents operating in Scotland, a new mandatory code of practice and minimum training requirements for some staff.

Of course, underpinning everything will be the continued roll out of welfare reform measures and the Scottish Government’s continued efforts to mitigate the impact in Scotland. The ‘bedroom tax’ will again be fully financially mitigated and funding levels for Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) and the Scottish Welfare Fund (SWF) will remain at current levels. However, this year we should also start to see more structural changes to the delivery of social security in Scotland as Universal Credit flexibilities bed in and the Social Security Bill sets the foundations for the new Scottish Social Security Agency.

  • Ashley Campbell is policy and practice manager at CIH Scotland.

This article was first published on the CIH Scotland website.