Housing to 2040: consultation analysis

Report summarising and describing the responses to the public consultation on Housing to 2040.

This document is part of a collection

Analysis of Question 2. Do you have any comments on the scenarios and resilience of the route map or constraints?

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 type. There were no obvious trends or preferences by sector interest.

This makes it difficult to identify areas of consensus and disagreement. However, we have presented below the feedback from the respondents structured under each of the drivers and any constraints noted, where there was sufficient comment provided to enable this. 

Some provided suggestions to add to or modify the list of drivers of change, while others provided comments and suggestions related to how housing policy could respond to these challenges. We refer to both types of response below.

Overarching comments about the drivers for change and constraints

Some respondents expressed agreement with the drivers for change and constraints laid out in the route map and, in some cases, made little further comment.

"These seem to be well considered and comprehensive." - Architects and design/development organisation and professional/umbrella organisation

However, a minority of respondents commented that they would like to see more details about the drivers for change and constraints and how they will affect the Housing to 2040 vision. 

Driver for change: Population and health

Ageing population 

Some respondents commented on Scotland’s ageing population and the challenges this poses for the housing system, most notably the need to ensure that housing can be adapted to meet people’s needs as they become older.

"An ageing population brings growth in more complex health needs and co-morbidities, coupled with the policy of shifting the balance of care to the communities, flexible and adaptable housing that meets the changing needs of tenants over their life cycle will be essential to delivering a sustainable health and social care system of the future." - Local authority

A few others discussed innovative approaches to housing and construction, including self-build and co-housing models, as a way to provide housing that can be adapted to people’s changing needs as they get older.

 "A home for life should be an option, with properties with the capacity to be adapted, maybe a modular type of building that can have the ability to be added on to as a design feature." - Local third/community sector organisation

A few noted that alternative housing models such as co-housing[14] and collective self-build[15] have the potential to address social isolation among older people.

"Also co-housing projects which are mutually supportive can help to combat loneliness and isolation in older age, allowing individuals to stay in their homes for longer." - Architects and design/development organisation and professional/umbrella organisation

"Collective self-build and co-housing can address the increase in smaller households and an ageing population which requires more support to combat loneliness and financial constraints." - Private company

A few referred to the concept of intergenerational living and we include more details about this below.

Single person households

A few respondents commented about the increasing proportion of single person households, and referred to the potential of different housing models such as co-housing and collective self-build to respond to this trend.

"The statement ‘More single person households’ should include the caveat that many single people may not choose to live alone. More options should be explored to enable people to co-habit either in specifically designed co-housing or as single sharers within a better-regulated private rented sector or within affordable (social or mid-market rent) housing." - Registered social landlord

"Co-housing (not to be confused with co-living) and collective self-build allow for independent living and private space alongside active community interaction – once more addressing loneliness and isolation." - Architects and design/development organisation and professional/umbrella organisation

A small number referred to inter-generational living[16].

"By creating inter-generational community projects in new communities we are also tackling loneliness which is important as homes becomes single person households. A key reason to bring communities together and to trial intergenerational co-housing is the ageing population. As we get older it is more important than ever that we are closely connected to our neighbourhood and our community, so anything that stimulates connection can help." - National third sector organisation

The gap between life expectancy and healthy life expectancy

A minority of respondents noted the difference between life expectancy and healthy life expectancy, and made comments about the housing needs of people with disabilities and long-term health conditions. These respondents commented on the importance of ensuring that housing is accessible for disabled people.

"The effects of an ageing population and the gap between life expectancy and healthy life expectancy inevitably means that increasing numbers of people will be living with a disability. Consequently, much more accessible housing will be needed." - National third sector organisation

This respondent went on to comment that Housing to 2040 should have more focus on accessible housing.

"Section 3 does not address disability or accessibility in any way… Perhaps this is implied from the bullet points included in Section 3... but this is not enough - it must be explicit here, and throughout the Housing 2040 Strategy, in a clear and transparent way. Section 4, under constraints, point 4.3 states ‘adaptations of (some) existing homes to make them more accessible for disabled persons and appropriate for an ageing population.’ This seems non-committal and unambitious when making housing more accessible should be at the heart of Scotland’s Housing 2040 Strategy." - National third sector organisation

We discuss responses related to the adaptability and accessibility of housing for older and disabled people more fully in our analysis of Question 4.


A few respondents made comments related to the unknown impact of Brexit on depopulation in response to this question.

"There are obviously huge areas of uncertainty over what Brexit will mean, not least in the labour market and on our need to grow the Scottish population through inward migration." - Agencies, advisory groups and other national bodies

A few comments referred specifically to rural areas and depopulation. Issues identified by these respondents include a lack of affordable housing, made worse by empty and second homes, and difficulties with infrastructure including transport and access to services. These respondents felt that these challenges could lead to people moving away from rural areas, or deciding against moving to these areas.

"We need to balance the natural urban drift of population with the need for sustainable rural communities. Inward migration to Scotland as a whole is needed, but specifically, inward migration or at worst population preservation is vital in rural areas." - Registered social landlord

"People who live in these rural areas can experience difficulties with transport, access to services and rural deprivation. Rurality also presents challenges in the delivery of housing with care and support to people, for example, a workforce limited in size. This can result in people moving away from the community they have lived in for many years and are well connected to." - Health and social care body or professional/umbrella body

A few of these respondents noted that the needs of rural areas must be considered when planning housing policy. One referred to the needs of island communities specifically, suggesting that the scenarios and resilience should include a reference to the Islands Act and the need for policies to ensure that impacts on island communities are fully taken into account

Driver for change: Political

Political leadership and collaboration

There was a clear sense from some respondents that, in order to achieve the Housing to 2040 vision, the Scottish Government needs to provide political leadership. 

However, it was emphasised the cross-cutting nature of housing policy, and the need to collaborate with national and local governmental agencies in many other policy areas in order to deliver a whole system approach to housing. 

Some respondents identified various other policy areas where housing can have an impact, and that impact on housing. These include health inequalities, child poverty, human rights and climate change. A few respondents emphasised the need to ensure that the Housing to 2040 route map takes into account, and is joined up with, policies in these other areas.

"The links between housing and other areas of the public sector should be made more explicitly by the Scottish Government, highlighting that a safe and secure home is at the cornerstone of achieving prosperity and equality." - Local authority

Others acknowledged the importance of learning from the experience of other policy areas to inform the development of the route map.

"[We recommend that the Scottish Government] builds the broadest consensus possible beyond politics to include the whole housing landscape while also building in flexibility to take account of the unknowns, and to learn from previous experience from other policy areas including social security in terms of use of language and involving people with lived experience." - National third sector organisation

Some respondents also referred to collaborating with other agencies in the public and private sectors to leverage enhanced funding for housing, and we discuss this later in this chapter in the section about constraints related to finances.

Driver for change: Economic

Greater financial innovation

A minority of respondents suggested that new forms of funding, including grants for energy efficiency improvements, should be considered.

"If grants were given to help owners, private rented sector and local authorities to enable them to install energy efficiency items such as solar panels, insulation etc. then the money saved is likely to be used in the local economy." - Individual

One went into further detail about the importance of creating new funding streams over the next few years.

"Given the current and expected future economic context, in the short to medium term a firm focus will need to be given to generating new and innovative forms of funding set out, led at the national level. To sustain current planned investment in homes and infrastructure, there needs to be a recognition that any major drop off in current funding streams will have a negative effect on intended programmes post 2021. There are also issues of resilience in terms of the unknown impacts at this stage of Brexit, workforce and the UK context." - Local authority 

Availability of housing

A few respondents commented on issues such as short-term and holiday lets and the increase in student housing and the impact these are having on the availability and affordability of housing. Two suggested specific drivers of change – the impact of the tourism sector, and the impact of student accommodation - that could be added to the route map.

"Under ‘Economic’ there should be reference to the impact of the tourism sector on housing availability. Short-term letting is a serious issue which needs addressing immediately, especially in Edinburgh (and Leith in particular). It is appreciated that the tourism sector needs a supply of holiday homes but this puts additional pressure on the availability of properties for longer-term letting and drives up house prices." - Registered social landlord

"Include a separate section on Education, including student accommodation and the growth plan for the higher/further education sector. The proliferation of student housing has been putting additional stress in already pressurised places like Edinburgh and could result in over-supply in the longer-term." - Registered social landlord

Driver for change: Technology

Comments around technology focused on the need to ensure access to high-speed internet for communities across Scotland, particularly around the potential of new internet-based technology to enhance health and care systems.

"The provision of superfast connectivity to home through FTTP, 4G/5G networks, coupled with the mainstreaming of smart homes, eHealth facilities and home working will place higher demands on all networks. All private digital connectivity providers must be included in the future planning of Scotland’s wider infrastructure agenda." - Architects and design/development organisation and professional/umbrella organisation

"Increasing demand and reducing resources is driving the increased use of Technology Enabled Care. The infrastructure of housing needs to be able to support this." - Health and social care body or professional/umbrella body

A few respondents noted that affordable internet access is particularly important in rural areas. 

"All areas, especially rural areas, should have access to cheap internet. If the rural areas get left behind, it will make it hard for businesses, both tourism and technical, to compete on an even basis with businesses in urban areas." - Individual

Driver for change: Transport

Responses to Question 2 indicate respondents’ support for developments in active and sustainable transport, and this is an issue we discuss in more detail in our analysis of Question 7. Comments from some respondents focused on an enhanced focus on walking and cycling, and reduced reliance on cars.

"Encouraging more walking and cycling will help improve the health of the population however there is a requirement to consider the needs of the frail, vulnerable and disabled population when designing transport solutions." - Health and social care body or professional/umbrella body

Others identified the emergence of electric vehicles and the importance of ensuring that Scotland has the energy infrastructure to support increased use of this technology.

Challenges around transport provision in rural communities, especially the reliability and affordability of public transport, emerged as a distinct theme in comments from a few respondents.

"In rural areas public transport is dire, so there is a great reliance on cars. In some areas volunteers act as drivers to get people to medical appointments, or leisure activities. The groups who arrange this are always looking for funding so that the volunteers can be reimbursed for their expenses and the customer does not have to pay a huge amount… If the SG could support volunteer groups with a base grant, then it would not cost the taxpayer as much as improving the bus service and would enable the groups to operate with certainty and not have to spend time looking for funding to survive." - Individual

Driver for change: Energy and climate change

Many respondents recognised the importance of adapting housing to improve its energy efficiency and contribution to the response to climate change.

"The use of new technologies should be embraced in future home design to reduce energy use and increase efficiency in energy use." - Local third/community sector organisation

"A key driver of change affecting Scotland’s housing delivery is the current climate emergency and target of achieving net zero emissions by 2045. This creates a pressing requirement for us to care for, maintain and re-use of our existing buildings and places, recognising that the energy and carbon used in their manufacture and construction has already been spent." - Agencies, advisory groups and other national bodies

We discuss energy efficiency and climate change in more detail in our analysis of Questions 5 and 7.

Additional driver: Housing as a human right

A minority of respondents felt that the drivers for change should recognise that housing is a human right. 

"We would suggest that additional drivers could include the growing awareness of human rights as an issue in housing policy and outcomes and the realisation that in human rights terms the current system performs poorly at best." - National third sector organisation

Constraints: financial

Some respondents commented that more information needs to be provided about the costs of achieving the Housing to 2040 vision and how this will be funded, with a sense that financial resources will be required from the Scottish Government to support local authorities in delivering the vision.

"More information needs to be produced on how the ambitions for Housing to 2040 will be funded. There are more expectations on delivering services within local authorities without any proposals for increases in staff or funding. There are serious questions to be asked about how this will be resourced. We need clear direction from the Scottish Government and further clarity and information on how this is going to be funded." - Local authority

"The ability of the Housing to 2040 vision to be implemented is dependent upon adequate and long term funding commitments for housing and other related areas such as care, health and also national and local infrastructure to enable new housing developments to be realised." - Local authority

"Common sense dictates more Scottish Government funding and higher HAG (Housing Association Grant) percentages will be required if the ‘Vision’ is to have any chance of being achieved." - Registered social landlord

A few felt that the aims of the vision were unaffordable.

"The consultation states that the total cost of this work is going to cost over £100 billion over the twenty-year period, which amounts to £5 billion per year. This figure is far above the Scottish and UK Government’s budget for housing in Scotland of £2.6 billion per year. While the consultation acknowledges finance as a constraint, the reality is that without the appropriate funding, the aims are unfeasible." - Private landowner

"There is also a clear constraint in achieving some of the aims, from the total amount of money in the economy. Many of the aspirations assume a transfer of funding responsibility to individuals. It is not clear where these funds are to come from, whilst an assumption that loans and borrowing may provide a solution seems somewhat unrealistic." - Local authority

A few others, however, noted that positive outcomes can be achieved in other policy areas, such as health, as a result of investment in housing. There was a feeling among these respondents that recognising this, and working in collaboration with local and national agencies from other policy areas, could help to leverage additional funding for housing.

"The preventative value of housing, in relation to health and wellbeing outcomes, and the spend to save argument, in terms of investment in housing to support better health and wellbeing outcomes requires a collaborative approach at a national and local level. At a local level an outcome rather than service-based approach to budget setting and planning will support this aim." - Local authority 

"The council recognises the scale of fiscal requirements identified to achieve real change, particularly when considering a whole housing systems approach. This should be balanced with emphasis on the strong evidence that demonstrates investment in housing leads to improvements in a wide range of other sectors." - Local authority

"Links between housing and other public sector spending must be considered in different ways with the understanding and recognition of the contribution housing can make to health, education and criminal justice budgets." - Local authority

In addition, a few respondents suggested collaborating with the private sector to secure investment in the infrastructure necessary to support the aims of Housing to 2040. 

"Unless a collaborative approach to delivery of infrastructure is created between the state and private sector then the route map will not be delivered. Scotland's infrastructure is creaking already and without significant investment cannot be funded by private developers as they build in many parts of regional Scotland (where) land values are insufficient to fund the infrastructure required." - Individual 

A minority of respondents, in response to this question and others, suggested ways in which increased private sector funding could be leveraged. These ideas included:

  • the Scottish Government providing housing associations with long-term financial investment from the Scottish Government, which could help housing associations to leverage private finance;
  • reviewing the taxation system related to conservation, maintenance and repair work, especially VAT, which can act as a disincentive to private developers funding the conservation or renovation of existing buildings;
  • reviewing taxation arrangements for private landlords – while a few respondents recognised the need to reduce investment in second homes and buy-to-let properties, a few others noted the importance of the private rental sector and that the taxation system can discourage landlords from acquiring or renovating properties;
  • exploring models such as co-operative and community-led housing which a respondent suggested can attract private investment through models such as ‘loan stock’ which the respondent noted that private sector housing co-operatives have used to fund property acquisitions; and adjusting regulations in the mortgage industry to allow a higher price to be paid where it can be demonstrated that properties have lower long-term running costs – this could encourage increased private sector delivery in the new build sector. 

Constraints: labour market

A minority of respondents made comments related to the labour market and these focused mainly on the need to address the skills and availability of construction and trades workers, particularly in the context of Brexit, the ageing population, and the need to attract more young people into the industry.

"We would agree with the points made on the labour market in terms of the reduction in its workforce size, skills and availability. Even today skilled construction tradespeople and indeed good construction companies are at premiums hence the increase in tender prices....Greater and more realistic financial support for firms taking on apprentices must be considered by the Scottish Government as a matter of priority. Smaller construction companies will also possibly need more financial support from the Scottish Government in this respect." - Registered social landlord

"The section on labour market should also include the need to attract young people into housing as a profession, for example by the provision of more government funded further education and university housing courses and by the inclusion of housing as a standard item on primary and secondary school curriculums (e.g. as a module within Modern Studies or Geography)." - Registered social landlord

"Problems with reducing workforce generally but also leaving the EU. Consider more flexible working partial retirement, import workforce without restrictions. Modern apprentices in construction…There needs to be investment from government to support construction training as there are skill shortages in construction." - Agencies, advisory groups and other national bodies

One commented that this is a particular concern in rural communities: 

"We have raised our concerns regarding the lack of a skilled workforce in rural areas several times to the Scottish Government. It is heartening to see they have recognised this as a constraint. However, we feel they still underestimate the disparity in available contractors in rural areas as oppose to urban and how this will affect rural housing." - Private landowner

A few respondents referred to potential constraints caused by limited capacity among construction companies in Scotland.

"A key challenge in delivering the Vision is the limited capacity of the Scottish construction sector, outside of companies who will build their own product to a sales programme. There are few contractors capable of taking on large scale housing development. Over 75% of affordable housing in Glasgow was built by just three contractors. Our members are concerned that this limited capacity could contribute to delays and constraints on output." - Architects and design/development organisation and professional/umbrella organisation


Email: Housing2040@gov.scot

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