Scotland in 'social housing emergency' as nearly 245,000 on waiting list

Around 243,600 people are waiting for social housing - but just over 26,000 annual allocations were made.

Scotland in ‘social housing emergency’ as nearly 245,000 on waiting list Getty Images

Scotland is facing a “housing emergency” with more than 240,000 people on social housing waiting lists.

A major new report has highlighted the “critical” lack of social housing with the number of annual allocations across the country just 26,102.

Research by Solace, the organisation that represents Scottish council chief executives, estimates that at least 125,000 more homes are required to meet the current demand of 243,603 currently on the waiting list.

Cleland Sneddon, chair of Solace Scotland, has said that a ten-year-plan is needed for a “whole system transformation”.

He said: “The report sets out the unsustainable pressure on local authority housing, the challenges and barriers that are limiting the supply of new homes and social rent tenancies, and recommends action needed to implement change at pace and scale.

“The social sector needs to grow by at least 125,000 homes just to meet current demand. However, since 2022 just 18,583 affordable homes have been delivered and the supply of affordable housing has fallen 20% in three years.

“This is the first holistic assessment of need that looks at this key strategic issue over the short, medium and longer term. Our conclusion is that it is clear that a fundamental review of homelessness services and social housing provision in Scotland is required.

“A minimum ten-year plan is needed for whole system transformation.

“Solace, Cosla and ALACHO will work positively with both UK and Scottish Governments on these issues to agree a strategic programme of interventions to address these challenges.”

The report, Housing in Scotland: Current Context and Preparing for the Future, is the outcome of research undertaken by Solace in collaboration with Cosla and ALACHO – which represents chief housing officers.

In total – combining the 243,603 people on the waiting list, those currently in temporary accommodation (14,000 households), and Ukrainians in Scotland who are in temporary accommodation (12,000) – councils are faced with a duty to house at least 269,600 people.

The report adds: “Local authority housing and homelessness services are experiencing unsustainable pressure reflecting the critical lack of capacity in local housing systems in Scotland.

“Some local authorities are unable to meet their statutory duties, resulting in households in housing need being failed by the system set up to support them.

“The housing reality in Scotland is that there are simply not enough social and affordable homes available and local authorities currently have inadequate means to reverse the position.

“We have a housing emergency, what we need now is an emergency response that acknowledges the urgency required and that makes a genuine difference to our collective ability to respond to the unprecedented challenges.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Despite global issues such as rising costs of construction supplies and workforce issues, the number of affordable homes completed in Scotland in the year to end March 2023 is the highest annual figure since 2000.

“Our long-term strategy, Housing to 2040 sets out a vision for housing in Scotland and a route map to get there. It aims to deliver – through partnership working with COSLA and Local Authorities, consistent with the Verity House Agreement – our shared ambition for everyone to have a safe, good quality and affordable home that meets their needs in the place they want to be.

“We welcome the contribution of the Housing in Scotland report which will now be considered fully by the Scottish Government, COSLA, Solace and ALACHO through the established short-life Housing Review Group.”

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