Government unveils strategy for 100,000 more affordable homes over ten years

Plans to deliver 100,000 affordable homes over the next decade are set out today in a document that outlines Scotland’s first long-term housing strategy.

Recognising the importance of everyone having a safe and affordable home that meets their needs, Housing to 2040, as well as the document’s vison and principles, outline what the Scottish Government wants housing and communities to look and feel like for the people of Scotland, with actions on how to get there.

Around £16 billion will be invested to deliver 100,000 more affordable homes by 2032, with at least 70% of these being for social rent. The target will support up to 14,000 jobs a year, according to the document.

Plans for a new legal requirement for all homes to meet the same standards are also included in the strategy. Applying to all tenures, the new Housing Standard will create a single set of quality and accessibility standards.

Following consultation, and subject to the outcome of the election, the Scottish Government will publish a draft Standard in 2023 and introduce legislation in 2024-25, for phased introduction between 2025 and 2030, recognising that different types of homes in different places may need more or less time to achieve compliance.

Other key priorities in the strategy, which will be taken forward subject to the outcome of the election, include:

  • tackling high rents in the private sector and supporting fair, accessible private and social rental sectors through a Rented Sector Strategy and Housing Bill
  • decarbonising heating in all homes in line with Scotland’s climate ambitions, ensuring this is done in a fair and just way, including by adapting and retrofitting existing homes
  • aiming for all new homes delivered by Registered Social Landlords and local authorities to be zero emissions by 2026
  • establishing a new fund to help local authorities bring empty homes back into residential use
  • supporting housing development in rural and island areas, helping to prevent depopulation and enabling communities to thrive
  • continuing with our updated plan to end homelessness and rough sleeping once and for all
  • undertaking a comprehensive audit of our current housing and homelessness legislation to understand how best to realise the right to adequate housing.

Communities secretary Aileen Campbell said: “Homes are not simply bricks and mortar. They support people’s health, wellbeing and life chances, can help to tackle poverty and climate change, and are a major investment in the economy. Housing policy is essential in helping us achieve our ambitions for a fairer, more equal Scotland.

“Housing to 2040 sets out a vision for what we want homes and communities to look and feel like for people regardless of their stage in life or where they live. It is a vision where homes are affordable for everyone, where standards are the same across all tenures, where homes have easy access to green space and essential services, and where homelessness, child poverty and fuel poverty have all been eradicated.

“We have already delivered almost 100,000 affordable homes since 2007, and before the pandemic we were on track to meet our target of 50,000 during this parliament.  The pandemic interrupted the housing sector’s ability to hit this target, but we are committed to meeting it as soon as it is safe to do so. From there, we will start our new ambition to deliver a further 100,000 affordable homes by 2032.

“Our strategy shows how we will take this forward while tackling empty homes and poor housing, increasing energy efficiency and working to eradicate fuel poverty.

“In developing Housing to 2040 we have engaged with more than 2,000 people, including at 22 events across Scotland and through nationwide consultation. They told us what a good home and a vibrant community looks and feels like, and I’d like to thank them for their input.

“After a year when we have all seen the value of having a warm, safe place to live, this new long-term strategy will ensure every person in Scotland has a home that meets their needs.”

On the new Housing Standard proposal, Ms Campbell said: “Everyone living in Scotland is entitled to a warm, comfortable and safe place to live.

“That’s why we will develop a new Housing Standard which will be aligned to standards for energy efficiency and heating, meeting expectations for housing as a human right and delivering homes that underpin health and wellbeing. This will cover all homes, new and existing, with no margins of tolerance for sub-standard accommodation. Importantly we will also enshrine the Standard in law.

“The Scottish Government will work with local authorities, registered social landlords, private landlords and communities to drive improvements to the quality of all homes so that everyone is living in good quality accommodation, regardless of whether they own it or rent it from a private or social landlord. Our existing homes need to keep pace with new homes to ensure no one is left behind.”

The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) said the “ambitious” strategy has “much to commend”.

Chief executive Sally Thomas added: “It is SFHA’s ambition that everyone in Scotland has a safe, warm, energy efficient, affordable home, now and in the future, and the Scottish Government’s strategy could help to realise this.

“SFHA has long campaigned for an Affordable Housing Supply Programme commitment beyond one parliamentary term in order to tackle housing need and to maintain progress, so we really welcome the priority to deliver 100,000 more affordable homes by 2032.

“It is vital that our members can also invest in their existing stock, and we are pleased to see the commitment to supporting social landlords to do so, particularly important if all homes are to meet the same quality standards in the future. We welcome the proposal to mainstream standards of accessibility in order to deliver homes that are future proof and adapt to people’s changing needs.

“We look forward to seeing further detail of the strategy’s proposals and to working with the next government to support our members to deliver great quality homes that meet people’s needs and aspirations in the decades ahead.”

Shaheena Din, national project manager for the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership, said: “The Scottish Empty Homes Partnership has supported Empty Homes Officers across Scotland to bring approximately 6,000 empty homes back into use over the last 10 years. Despite this success, we have seen signs that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused a 16% rise in the numbers of homes lying empty.

“We welcome the publication of the Housing to 2040 report and are pleased to see that the report acknowledges the important role that empty homes have to play in meeting the demand for housing across all sectors over the next twenty years. It is encouraging to see a commitment to a new fund to support local authorities alongside wider powers for councils to take action where properties have been stuck and are causing blight on communities.

“Empty homes are an asset on our doorstep and have a vital part to play in revitalising local economies and we call for all councils to take a long term strategic approach to bring more homes back into use and prevent more homes becoming long term empty.”