Scotland in grip of a ‘housing emergency’, industry experts warn

A call for government action comes after the announcement that the affordable housing budget is to be cut by £196m.

A housing emergency has been declared in Scotland by experts in the sector ahead of delegates coming together for a two-day conference in Glasgow this week.

The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) Scotland will set out its thinking during this year’s Scotland’s Housing Festival, which starts at the SEC Glasgow on Tuesday.

The organisation will discuss housing shortages during the assembly and call for action from both the UK and Scottish governments to address what it sees as a worsening situation across the country.

It comes after three local authorities – Argyll and Bute, Edinburgh and Glasgow – declared housing emergencies in their respective areas last year, with more councils expected to follow shortly.

Last week it was reported that the Scottish Government had reduced the affordable housing supply budget by £196m, with new homeless figures suggesting more than 30,000 people currently have nowhere permanent to live. 

CIH Scotland national director, Callum Chomczuk, said: “Scotland is the midst of a housing emergency, and we need a political response. 

“We want to see the UK budget on Thursday provide increased spending, increased capital spending and clarity over future Financial Transaction allocations, which would mean more funding could be provided for affordable housing in the coming year.  

“However, we also want to see the Scottish government prioritise the delivery and building of affordable  housing.

“We want to see the affordable housing budget front loaded so social landlords can keep building, as it is always going to cheaper to build today than it is tomorrow.  

“The Scottish budget last week fell far short of what the sector has been asking for, but it is never too late to invest in people, invest in communities and invest in social housing. We need an emergency plan and funding for delivering the social homes Scotland needs.” 

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “This survey of a small number of landlords is at odds with what the latest Scottish Landlord Register data show, where the number of registered properties for rent in Scotland between August 2022 (339,632) and January 2024 (345,374) has increased by 1.7%.

“Private renting is a very dynamic sector and has always been characterised by some landlords leaving and others entering.

“Our emergency legislation has protected tenants at a time when private rents have been rising steeply across the UK. Since April 1 2023, private landlords have been able to increase a tenant’s rent in-tenancy by up to 3% or can apply to Rent Service Scotland for approval of an increase of up to 6% in specific circumstances.

“The emergency measures also included safeguards for those landlords who may be impacted by the cost-of-living crisis.”

The declaration of a housing emergency is expected at the opening session of the two-day Housing Festival at the SEC in Glasgow.

The event will bring together around 800 housing professionals, speakers, and exhibitors to discuss the latest issues, challenges, and solutions for the sector.  

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