A note on Coronavirus (COVID-19) from Scottish Government:
Since this consultation was carried out, the COVID-19 outbreak has had a significant impact on Scotland.
The consultation process ran between December 2019 and February 2020 and was not affected by the outbreak, with the exception of the necessary cancellation of events on Jura and Islay. We will work with those communities as we progress Housing to 2040 to make sure that their views are heard.
As the consultation was largely unaffected by the outbreak and it was not raised as an issue by respondents or at events, no reference is made to COVID-19 in this report in respect of the policy content of Housing to 2040.
The pandemic sets work on Housing to 2040 in a new context. While there are new imperatives for our homes and communities in the shorter term, the longer term draft vision and principles consulted upon remain relevant.
Taking forward work on Housing to 2040, in light of what people across Scotland have told us through this consultation and in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, will be an important part of Scotland’s recovery.
This report presents an analysis of responses to the public consultation on Housing to 2040. The consultation exercise ran from 2 December 2019 until 28 February 2020. The consultation involved an online questionnaire with eight open ended questions and 15 stakeholder consultation events facilitated by the Scottish Government.
Some 202 responses were received to the consultation and this report presents the analysis of these responses, and of the notes from the 15 stakeholder events.
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Housing policy has a vital role to play in achieving many of Scotland’s aspirations, including eradicating child poverty and homelessness, ending fuel poverty, tackling climate change and promoting inclusive growth. The Scottish Government’s ambition is that everyone in Scotland should live in high quality, energy efficient homes that are affordable and that meet their needs.
In the Programme for Government 2018-19, the Scottish Government committed to creating a vision for how our homes and communities should look and feel by 2040 and the options and choices to get there. A draft vision and set of guiding principles was published in July 2019. This consultation sought views on this vision and the options for how to make it a reality.
Approach to the analysis
Responses were downloaded from Citizen Space and uploaded into qualitative analysis software NVivo. Responses were coded into relevant themes and sub-themes and the analysis of these is presented in this report.
The consultation document asked respondents to make detailed suggestions in response to Questions 3 to 7 under a series of suggested headings including:
- Who needs to make it happen and what type of action is required? E.g. facilitation, regulatory, financial, infrastructure, training etc.
- How much it costs and who will pay?
- Who is needed to do the work (workforce)?
- How long the proposal would take to implement and whether it is a temporary or permanent measure?
While respondents did provide many practical and innovative suggestions which have been included in our analysis, it is important to note that most of the responses did not provide the high level of detail requested in response to the specific questions above.
However, responses received were detailed and balanced, and there was significant consensus across the responses and across sectors. There were no significant disagreements between sectors, or significant tensions between responses. There was a great deal of commonality in relation to proposals made for change and future development. Many constructive, creative and innovative suggestions were made for future developments. This is encouraging, and a positive position from which to move forward.
Below we outline the key findings from the analysis.
Visions and Principles
In general, the draft vision and principles were broadly supported by respondents and were praised for being both ambitious and comprehensive. Principle 15: Everyone has a right to an adequate home was particularly strongly supported by the respondents.
Some respondents expressed doubt over how realistic and achievable the aims were given the challenges faced by the housing sector. In some cases, respondents suggested revisions to the particular phrases in the draft vision and principles in order to strengthen statements or clarify points further.
Comments on the scenarios and resilience of the route map
Respondents’ comments on the scenarios and resilience of the Housing to 2040 route map or constraints were disparate, with mixed views expressed within all respondent types, i.e. there were no obvious trends or preferences by sector interest, which is, of itself, interesting.
The most commonly discussed themes included Scotland’s ageing population and the challenges this poses for the housing sector; comments related to the challenges presented by various social, economic and environmental trends, including the increasing proportion of single person households; the gap between life expectancy and healthy life expectancy; the growth of holiday lets and student accommodation; and climate change.
Other themes that were identified included availability of affordable high-speed internet, access to active and sustainable travel, and depopulation.
Some respondents also commented about the cost of achieving the Housing to 2040 vision, observing that local authorities will require financial support from the Scottish Government to deliver the vision, while others emphasised the importance of enhancing the skills and availability of construction and trades workers, particularly in the context of Brexit.
Proposals for increasing the affordability of housing in the future
Many respondents called for affordability to be more clearly defined in relation to housing and for there to be a common definition to which everyone could work.
Some respondents considered increasing the supply of housing to be key to improving affordability, while others suggested that a range of factors needed to be implemented. These included maximising the benefit of public sites; implementing a range of more innovative construction methods (such as off-site construction); enabling more investment and offering incentives; increasing support for home-buyers and home ownership; and making changes to taxation, with Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) being most commonly cited.
Proposals for increasing the accessibility of existing and new housing for older and disabled people
Many respondents felt there was a significant shortage of accessible housing and the need for this to be addressed. Comments were made in relation to both existing and new housing.
Many emphasised the need to make adaptations to existing housing stock but recognised that this was challenging due to a range of factors including cost and planning constraints. Nevertheless, a range of specific suggestions were made, including adaptations such as widening doorways, installing accessible showers as standard and installing charging points for electric wheelchairs.
There were mixed views in relation to the development of new housing – with some respondents arguing that all future housing should be fully accessible, and others arguing that investment should focus on a minimum number or proportion of units. Many agreed that building in flexibility at the outset, to allow for changes based on need to be made at later points was desirable.
Other comments related to alternative building types and methods (for example co-housing model and more communal spaces into new build developments); more extensive opportunities for self-build; better regulation of adaptations and new housing; and calls for a single government framework for adaptations regardless of tenure. Other issues raised included calls for further support for independent living; support to people wishing to downsize; and the increased use of technology to improve accessibility.
Some respondents also highlighted challenges with enforcement of regulations.
Proposals to help Scottish Government to respond to the global climate emergency by increasing the energy efficiency and warmth and lowering carbon emissions of existing and new housing
Respondents provided a wide range of detailed suggestions to help the Scottish Government respond to the global climate emergency. Key issues raised included the need for greater regulatory stipulations and higher standards to be applied to new build housing. Other suggestions included ensuring that adaptations are made to existing housing stock and trialling new construction methods to enhance energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions.
Respondents also discussed the need to ensure a transition from oil and gas to other energy forms, tensions between energy efficiency and heritage (e.g. maintaining the aesthetics of older buildings and complying with listed building requirements) and the need for a mix of regulation and monitoring alongside education, advice and financial support across all tenures.
Proposals to improve the quality, standards and state of repair of existing and new housing
The most common suggestions for improving the quality, standard and state of repair of housing focused on repairing and maintaining existing housing stock and the importance of developing a single set of standards for maintenance across all tenures. Respondents suggested various penalties, such as fines or increased Council Tax, and incentives, such as loans and grants, to encourage owners to maintain their properties adequately.
Energy efficiency was a key consideration, with some respondents noting that the standards for maintenance should encompass improvements designed to enhance a property’s energy efficiency, while some noted that existing housing should be upgraded to meet the same standards as new build properties, especially in terms of energy efficiency.
Other suggestions included enhancing the skills of people working in the construction industry and related trades, introducing greater regulation of tradespeople, exploring the use of innovative construction models such as off-site construction, bringing empty homes back into use, and various measures to improve the quality of new build housing such as reviewing and refreshing the standards set out in Housing for Varying Needs.
Proposals to improve the space around our homes and promote connected places and vibrant communities
Many respondents emphasised the importance of shared green and/or open spaces in improving the areas around our homes and promoting connected places and vibrant communities, with a common view that these can contribute to climate change adaptation and mitigation, as well as promoting physical and mental health and wellbeing among residents.
Many also identified the importance of enabling people to access active modes of travel and/or public transport safely and easily. Respondents noted that this might require enhancements to local infrastructure, such as upgrading street lighting or cycle paths. Again, there was an emphasis on the benefits of active and sustainable travel for climate change and health and wellbeing. Easy access to services and amenities such as shops, exercise and leisure facilities, education and healthcare was also considered a priority.
The findings from this research will inform the development of a final vision for, and route map to, 2040.