Blog: It’s time to deliver a home for everyone in Scotland

Rosemary Brotchie
Rosemary Brotchie

By Rosemary Brotchie, policy and research manager at Shelter Scotland

Shelter Scotland’s Manifesto for Homes sets out four commitments for the Parties standing for election in May. Top of the list is to deliver a home for everyone in Scotland. It’s a simple commitment to make, and quite simply, ensuring that everyone has a safe and affordable home is the single biggest thing that a government in Scotland could do to tackle the housing crisis. And yet building enough homes is something that governments in Scotland have failed to do over many decades. It’s why there are over 150,000 people on council waiting lists to get an affordable home, why there are more than 10,000 households in temporary accommodation and why tomorrow morning, nearly 5,000 children will wake up homeless in Scotland.

Independent research published last year by Shelter Scotland, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations and the Chartered Institute of Housing in Scotland, shows just how much current policy is lagging behind the need for new homes. It showed that Scotland needs at least 12,000 affordable homes a year for the next five years and that current building programmes are at best, only providing half of what’s needed. Delivering a home for everyone requires a step change in supplying new affordable housing, and the scale of the need means that at least three quarters of what’s built should be homes for social rent rather than other less affordable tenures like shared equity or mid-market rent.

A programme of this scale will be a huge challenge. But the prize goes well beyond making sure there is a home for everyone. As the Commission on Housing and Wellbeing set out in its landmark report last June, investing in new affordable housing would lead to health gains from better homes and play a critical in reducing inequality, child poverty and a whole range of wellbeing outcomes. House building is also driver of economic growth: every £100 million invested in affordable housing supply via both public and private finance generates £210 million of economic output in the wider economy and sustains 1,270 jobs. A housebuilding programme which delivers 12,000 affordable homes per year could sustain up to 19,000 jobs and generate £2.6 billion of economic output for Scotland

Building 12,000 new affordable homes each year over the next parliament will be a game changer for Scotland. But we also have to recognise that 85% of the homes we will be living in by 2050 are already built. That’s why building new homes isn’t enough on its own, we also need to make sure that the houses we already have in Scotland are good homes too. We want the parties fighting the election in May to commit to improving existing houses by making sure that there is a new Common Housing Quality Standard that applies to all homes, regardless of whether they are owned or rented. And we need to turn the 27,000 long term empty houses in Scotland back into homes for people who need them.

These three things together would make a real difference to the lives of thousands of people across Scotland and to the needs of future generations too. Shelter Scotland will be campaigning for politicians to sign up to these commitments and you can help us by supporting our campaign online. Let’s make this election the one where Scotland turns its back on the housing crisis once and for all.

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