SFHA responds to First Minister’s statement on government’s priorities

The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) has welcomed the First Minister’s statement this week on the Scottish Government’s priorities for this parliament, including its commitment to continue tackling housing need through the delivery of affordable housing.

SFHA responds to First Minister’s statement on government’s priorities

Sally Thomas

Announcing her government’s continued support for good quality affordable housing, Ms Sturgeon told parliament on Wednesday: “We will invest a total of £3.5 billion, to support our pledge to deliver 100,000 new affordable homes by 2032.

“We will continue our work to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping.

“And we will invest a further £1.6bn, and introduce new housing standards, to support the decarbonisation of heating.”

Sally Thomas, SFHA chief executive, said: “The pandemic has had a devastating impact, so it is right that the Scottish Government’s immediate priority is Covid recovery. We must ensure the government’s wider mission of recovery and renewal really does result in lasting social and economic change that tackles the poverty and inequality that still exists in Scotland. One of the main ways of doing this is through the delivery of safe, warm, energy efficient affordable housing, and we were pleased that the First Minister restated the government’s commitment to delivering 100,000 affordable homes by 2032, with an investment of £3.5bn towards this parliament’s programme.

“In order to achieve this, we must ensure that grant subsidy levels are right, so housing associations and co-operatives can deliver homes to the required quality standards, and in the locations they are needed, while keeping rents affordable for tenants. We are currently part of a working group, led by the Scottish Government and COSLA, which is reviewing subsidy levels, and its findings will be crucial to the success of delivering the new Affordable Housing Supply Programme.”

Ms Thomas added: “Alongside addressing poverty and inequality, ramping up our collective efforts to tackle climate change is critical – for our country and the world. We welcome the announcement of an additional £1.6bn to support decarbonisation work and the new housing standards which will be introduced this parliament. This funding will help housing associations and co-operatives to play their part in tackling climate change.

“We do know, however, that this represents only a small proportion of the investment social landlords will need to make in their existing stock in order to bring it up to the standards required by government targets for net-zero. Our forthcoming research into the implications for the sector of meeting the Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing Two indicates a £2bn price tag for the country’s housing associations and co-operatives.

“This is an area we are actively reviewing with the Scottish Government and our members as part of the Zero Emissions in Social Housing Taskforce (ZEST), which I am co-chairing. The recommendations of ZEST will look at funding mechanisms to support social landlords as well as the necessary mix in terms of contributions from housing associations themselves and government.”

She concluded: “The Scottish Government has set itself ambitious priorities for this parliament. The country’s housing associations and co-operatives are equally ambitious. We will work with the government and our members to ensure that, together, we redouble our efforts to see the inclusive, fairer and more equal country we all want.”

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