For over twenty years and as a result of devolution, Scotland has been empowered to pursue its own housing aspirations. In doing so, we have sought to recognise the central importance of good, safe, secure and warm homes for people's wellbeing. As a result, we have focused on the delivery of affordable homes, taking a world-leading approach to tackling homelessness and improving people's experiences of living in the private and social rented sectors. That approach has paid off, with child poverty rates in Scotland lower than in the rest of the UK directly because there are more affordable housing choices and housing costs here are lower.
Now, as we look twenty years to the future, we know there is still much more to do. The trauma of the past year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has shone a spotlight, as if one were needed, on the persistent inequalities that exist in Scotland despite our best efforts.
Housing became an important public health tool as people were asked to "stay at home" to suppress the virus and protect lives and our NHS. And all that was so much easier if you had a secure home, was much more manageable if you had access to good quality outdoor green space and, if you had the room and were connected to the internet, home schooling was far more practical.
Therefore, recovery from this pandemic won't ever be enough if all that ends up happening is reverting back to "normal", when that normality has failed too many for too long – inequality should never be viewed as somehow inevitable.
As we look to develop our approach to housing over the next twenty years, housing will be pivotal to that recovery. And we have an opportunity to ensure that our actions as we rebuild and renew are guided by the principles of social justice, equality and human rights.
Homes have never been simply bricks and mortar – good housing and homes support our health, our wellbeing, our life chances and our job prospects. Everyone should have a home that brings them those chances and opportunities.
We began our work on Housing to 2040 before the pandemic hit, by engaging with over 2,000 people, meeting with people and organisations at 22 events across Scotland and carrying out consultation. Importantly, we also engaged directly with young people who will be emerging into their own adulthood as this twenty-year strategy develops and has impact. It is only right that those who will live longest with this approach shape it from the beginning.
People and organisations alike told us what a good home and a vibrant community looked like, and how it made them feel, and shared with us their aspirations for how we can make that a reality for everyone in Scotland. I am grateful to them for their engagement and enthusiasm and I am grateful to the members of the Social Renewal Advisory Board Housing Policy Circle who helped us understand how we can learn from the experiences of the pandemic.
This collective vision for our homes and communities in 2040, shaped by our partners, our people and our communities, demands that our decisions now and in the future put people and communities first. I hope it is a vision that can be shared across the political spectrum.
Therefore, in response to this, I am proud to set out a route map for how this Government intends to deliver the Housing to 2040 Vision and translate that vision into action.
We will continue to provide affordable homes across Scotland, particularly homes for social rent. Housing to 2040 sets a new ambition to deliver 100,000 affordable homes by 2031/32 which will make an important contribution to tackling child poverty and our continuing work to end homelessness. This ambition will also play a key role in helping Scotland's economy to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, supporting a total investment package of around £16 billion and 12,000 to 14,000 jobs each year. In addition, the total investment required from public and private sources to decarbonise Scotland's domestic and non-domestic buildings is estimated to be in the region of £33 billion over the period to 2045, and is likely to support around 24,000 jobs each year as investment reaches its peak in the late 2020s.
Alongside this, we will take the necessary steps to make the right to an adequate home a reality, tackle high rents and increase stability for those in the private rented sector and give local authorities the tools they need to improve access to housing in their local areas.
We will put place at the heart of our work, investing in our town centres and making it easier for homes to be the heart of strong communities with housing that is well designed, without compromising on the aesthetics. We will take action to stem rural depopulation and help communities in all corners of Scotland to thrive.
We will affirm our commitment to Scotland's climate change targets by taking action to make sure new homes are fit for the future, with zero emissions heating systems. We will adapt and retrofit existing homes so that the people who live in them can benefit from improved energy efficiency and decarbonised heating and we will take the opportunities offered by a green recovery to help drive inclusive and sustainable economic growth.
And we will take action so that our homes are good quality. We will ensure that all homes meet the same quality standards, so that everyone can expect the same from their home no matter where they live. We will redouble our efforts to support people to live independently in a home of their own that meets their needs.
This is a plan for the long term and it needs action from not only the Scottish Government but also the UK Government, local authorities, housing providers, landlords, industry and home owners. It will also need us to be ready to adapt when things change.
I am proud of what we, collectively, have achieved so far.
Now, delivering on the vision and aspiration set out in this strategy will require hard work, collaboration and commitment. But when the prospect of doing so will enable us to realise an equal and fairer Scotland, where everyone has the right to a home, and helps us deliver a greener Scotland with vibrant and flourishing communities, then that effort will be worth it and for the generations to come.
Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government
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