Co-ops to help Scotland reach affordable housing target, says report

The Scottish government had committed to building 50,000 homes over the lifetime of the current parliament

The Scottish government is on track to reaching its target of building 50,000 affordable homes by 2021, a number that will be achieved with support from housing associations and co-operatives.

A recent report on strategic investment plans for affordable housing found that the £3bn affordable housing programme undertaken in Scotland is set to deliver 25,000 new homes for the nation’s social housing stock.

The Scottish government had committed to building 50,000 homes over the lifetime of the current parliament (2016-2021), with at least 35,000 of them socially rented. The report estimates that the programme could raise the social housing stock from just under 595,000 in 2017 to 618-620,000 by 2021. By contrast in England the number of socially rented homes is predicted to fall by 120,000.

Commissioned by Shelter Scotland, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations and The Equality and Human Rights Commission in Scotland, the research highlights that registered social landlords are expected to be the lead developer for two-thirds of new homes. Of the new socially rented homes, 70% will also be greener varying depending on area, according to the report. The paper points out that while the number of homes being built looks to be close to target, it is difficult to tell whether the right type of homes are being built in the right places.

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, which includes co-ops, 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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