GWSF: Next Scottish Government must follow the ‘keep it local’ principle
The value of keeping things truly local should be a key plank of the new Scottish Government’s programme after the election, according to the Glasgow and West of Scotland Forum of Housing Associations (GWSF).
Launching its manifesto for this year’s Scottish Parliament election, GWSF said the pandemic has shown how effective local community organisations are at getting essential help quickly to the people needing it most.
It said the speed and agility with which community controlled housing associations accessed funding to provide crucial support for vulnerable people affected by lockdown should be a model for future funding aimed at communities.
GWSF chair Helen Moore said: “During Covid the model of channelling central funding via local community-based organisations has worked incredibly well. In many areas this funding has been obtained by housing associations on behalf of smaller, local organisations: this is the very essence of a community anchor body. Long after Covid has been tackled, this route should be adopted as the default model for future funding.”
Maintaining the diversity of the housing association sector, facing the consequences of the decline of public services, and a radical new approach to tenemental disrepair, are among the other calls in GWSF’s manifesto.
Helen Moore added: “We believe the development of very large housing associations absorbing increasing numbers of formerly independent associations should be actively discouraged. This kind of monopoly approach detracts from the diversity that has long been a key strength of the sector, and risks creating the large, remote landlords that were so unsuccessful in the past: these are the very circumstances which brought about community controlled housing associations in the first place.
“We’re also calling on the next Scottish Government to undertake a full review of the impact of the progressive withdrawal of environmental and other council services. Housing associations are increasingly stepping in to fill the gaps left, to ensure their communities continue to be safe and attractive. But this means their tenants are paying for services through both their rent and council tax.
“And on an issue which always risks being overlooked, we’re keen to reassert our call for a radical new approach to address chronic disrepair in privately owned tenements. Alongside longer term legislative change in line with the 2019 recommendations of the Parliamentary Working Group, ring fenced funding is needed for councils to be able to work with local housing associations to offer the right mix of carrots and sticks to owners who can’t or won’t pay for their share of essential works.”