Ministers urged to be ‘more ambitious’ on affordable housing

Shelter Scotland said not enough is being done to close the gap between supply and demand.

Ministers urged to be ‘more ambitious’ on affordable housing iStock

The Scottish Government has been told it needs to be “more ambitious” on housing, despite announcing more than £3.2bn of cash to boost the supply of affordable homes.

Housing secretary Shona Robison said the funding – to be shared between Scotland’s councils over the next five years – would give the sector the “certainty and assurance” needed to help meet government housing targets.

Ministers want to build 100,000 affordable homes across Scotland by 2032, with at least 70% of them available for social rent from either councils or housing associations.

Glasgow City Council, Scotland’s largest local authority, will get the most cash – £537m – over the period.

In contrast, the Orkney Islands will receive less than £18m over the five years.

Robison said that since the SNP came to power in 2007, more than 102,000 affordable homes have been constructed.

She added: “Building on this, our aim is to deliver 100,000 affordable homes by 2032, with at least 70% of these for social rent.”

However, Alison Watt, director of the housing charity Shelter Scotland, said that despite building “the most homes in a generation” the current government has not done “enough to close the gap between supply and demand”.

Ms Watt said: “We need to be more ambitious. Pledging to build 100,000 new affordable homes in the next decade is a good start, but it’s not quite good enough.

“It will leave too many people waiting for the permanent homes they need.”

She said ministers need to accelerate plans for social housing “so fewer people are waiting for the home they need”.

Shelter Scotland said 37,100 council and housing association properties should be built in the areas with “greatest need” by 2025.

She argued: “Building more quality social homes in the right places will tackle the root cause of homelessness, reduce child poverty and inequality, improve health, create jobs, help Scotland meet its climate targets and support economic growth.”

Her comments came as Robison stressed the need to “continued collaboration across the private and public sectors” on housing.

The minister added: “I’m pleased to be increasing significantly the available affordable housing grant funding for council areas to help with this important work.

“The five-year allocations will provide the certainty and assurance the housing sector needs to deliver the ambitious affordable homes target set out in our Housing to 2040 strategy.”

Councillor Gail Macgregor, resources spokeswoman for the local authority body Cosla, welcomed the funding commitment.

She said: “The priority for councils, and housing associations, is ensuring rent affordability and warm, safe, comfortable homes for current and future tenants.

“As we look to recover from the impacts of the pandemic, councils are working side by side with their communities. We maintain a focus on our shared ambitions around tackling child poverty and climate change, alongside building more houses.”

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