01 Housing in Scotland: A Distinctive Approach
Since 1999, housing policy has been devolved to the Scottish Parliament. This has allowed a new approach to develop in Scotland, one that recognises the central role that housing plays in determining quality of life. We have taken a different course to other UK nations on affordable housing supply, Right to Buy, affordability, homelessness, child poverty, security of tenure and energy efficiency.
We have chosen to prioritise the delivery of affordable homes, improve tenants' experiences in the private and social rented sectors, bring in strong legal rights for those experiencing homelessness and push ahead with improving the quality of homes in the social rented sector and energy efficiency of all homes.
Since devolution our investment has delivered record numbers of affordable homes, helping to meet housing need throughout Scotland. Between 2007 and 2020, the supply of affordable housing per head of population in Scotland has been over a third higher than in England and three-quarters higher than in Wales.
We abolished the Right to Buy to preserve social rented homes for those who most need them and to protect the high levels of investment we have made in new homes. By ending the Right to Buy, we are safeguarding approximately 15,000 homes over a ten-year period.
We have helped to bring homeownership within the reach of more people through long-run support for shared equity schemes. Across the Low-Cost Initiative for First Time Buyers shared equity schemes and Help to Buy (Scotland), we have helped over 35,000 households to buy a home and provided £200 million for the First Home Fund pilot to help another 8,000 households to buy their first home.
We have broadened housing choices by increasing provision of mid-market rented housing, though both our Affordable Housing Supply Programme and innovative funding and delivery models. Since 2007, we have supported delivery of more than 7,000 homes for mid-market rent.
Our internationally recognised Town Centre First approach has helped revitalise town centres, stimulating a wide range of activity across public, private, third and community sectors.
We have placed a strong emphasis on availability and affordability of social rents in the decisions we have taken as a Government, the impact of which is borne out in Scotland's child poverty figures. After housing costs, child poverty rates in Scotland are lower than in the UK and this is explained by the increased availability of affordable housing and lower housing costs across all tenures including social rent.
We have some of the most progressive homelessness legislation in the world, and are focused first and foremost on prevention. Where homelessness does occur, we are committed to person-centred, housing-led solutions.
We have brought greater security to private sector tenants through the introduction of a new type of tenancy ending no-fault evictions so tenancies are open-ended and a landlord is no longer able to ask a tenant to leave simply because the fixed term has ended.
By introducing the Scottish Social Housing Charter, we have helped tenants hold their landlord to account on the standards and outcomes they can expect, which has driven improvements in the quality and value of services. The latest report from the Scottish Housing Regulator showed that almost 9 out of 10 social housing tenants were satisfied with the homes and services their landlords provide.
Big improvements have been made in the quality of social rented homes, through the Scottish Housing Quality Standard (SHQS). This has driven modernisation and improvement of social rented stock at a scale not seen in modern times, with more tenants living in warmer, safer and drier homes and a major investment programme, worth around £4 billion, delivered by local authorities and Registered Social Landlords. Now 94% of all council and Registered Social Landlord homes meet the SHQS.
We introduced an energy efficiency standard for social rented homes as a core part of the SHQS and have gone on to increase this standard twice to help remove poor energy efficiency as a driver for fuel poverty and contribute to achieving our ambitious climate change targets. In March 2020, social landlords were well on the way to achieving the first milestone for the Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing, with 87% of social rented homes meeting the standard ahead of the December 2020 deadline.
We have made good progress on improving the energy efficiency of Scotland's homes, with 45% now achieving Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) Band C or better, and have introduced the most ambitious and comprehensive fuel poverty legislation in the UK. Our updated Fuel Poverty Strategy will be published later in 2021. Since 2013, our investment in Area Based Schemes has improved energy efficiency for over 100,000 fuel-poor households across Scotland and over 20,000 households have been helped by our national fuel poverty scheme, Warmer Homes Scotland, since 2015, saving people on average £300 per year on their energy bills.
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