1. Next spring, we will publish our vision for Housing to 2040, and a route map showing how we will get there. We want this to be a shared vision, with widespread stakeholder and popular support to provide the long-term certainty that people and organisations across Scotland have called for.
2. Whilst 2040 seems far away, it takes a long time to build new homes and communities, to develop housing services and to improve the quality of existing stock. It is clear that we face a number of challenges which mean that business as usual is not an option.
3. In the course of this Scottish Parliamentary term (2016-2021), it is anticipated that the Scottish Government will spend over £4 billion on housing in Scotland, primarily through affordable housing supply, shared equity schemes, energy efficiency measures and mitigating UK Government welfare cuts. The UK Government will spend over £8 billion on housing in Scotland, primarily through housing benefits and energy efficiency measures.
4. The forecast demographic changes in Scotland present some of the most significant challenges to business as usual. We are facing the combination of an ageing population and a persistent gap between life expectancy and healthy life expectancy of around 18 years, resulting in increasing costs of health and social care services. This challenge is something that our approach to Housing to 2040 must help to address.
5. House building, and housing systems don't fit neatly into a parliamentary cycle. Nor does forcing it into that cycle naturally lend itself to the longer-term stability that stakeholders have told us is required in order to be able to plan ahead.
6. Housing is about more than bricks and mortar; it's about people and it's about creating flourishing communities across Scotland. Housing and housing policy has a reach that is broad and impacts upon so many parts of life, that it is important we get it right. A warm home that feels safe, stable and permanent enables people to have a greater sense of wellbeing, and to feel able to go to work. It provides a safe space for children to play or do their homework in, and allows our elderly people to live independently. Good housing helps to tackle the attainment gap, reduce inequalities, promote better physical and mental health, create communities and can help regenerate the places we live in. This is good for people and good for the Scottish economy.
7. The contribution from housing to the economy goes much wider and deeper than the obvious, but important, spend on construction of new homes and related employment. New homes for working households also contribute to income tax and council tax receipts, helping to fund vital public services. There is also the work to repair and adapt our existing homes and to improve their energy efficiency to meet our carbon reduction targets. Good housing is important in helping people move to access job opportunities, and affordable homes encourage firms to locate or stay in communities. Stable house prices limit the amount that people must spend on rent and mortgage payments; this allows for more investment in business and makes retirement and pensions more affordable. Home ownership can help with entrepreneurship because it provides an asset to borrow against when financing a business. Homes with sufficient space allow people to work from home, which has a positive economic impact through increased access to work and productivity and a reduction in the costs associated with commuting.
8. So, for our approach to be effective, we will need to make the connections across different policies. This applies in the Scottish Government, local government and in organisations across Scotland. For example, providing for, and valuing, an ageing population is not just about housing, but about joining up a whole spectrum of accommodation and services: from care homes to care at home, from carers to technology that prevents accidents and has the potential to do so much more. We need housing that is fit for purpose for older people and allows them to play an active part in their local community. We need to help older people live at home safely and comfortably, for longer.
9. The Scottish Government has a major part to play. We need to do more to join up our investment in particular communities. For example, we might want to think about joined-up investment in energy efficiency, regeneration and new homes.
10. We are already doing a lot of work to make good use of surplus public land. But there's more we can do. These are just examples.
11. And we need a successful approach that delivers for all of Scotland in all its forms – rural, urban, island, city, town or hamlet – it needs to speak to inner city Glasgow as much as it does to North Ronaldsay and everywhere in-between. So perhaps we need to have a much greater diversity of approaches, tailored to local circumstances? We certainly need to go further in empowering local communities in meeting their own housing needs.
12. A vision for 2040 could help answer big policy questions. For instance, this government believes in the value of social housing but do we need to be clearer on the role of social housing? What proportion of our housing stock should be social? What lessons can be drawn from the history of social housing at its zenith in the 1960s that we can learn from today and for the future.
13. Local authorities and housing associations do great work in meeting local need. But how could we make social housing more flexible to allow people to move around Scotland, for family reasons or work, without being penalised?
14. In terms of the private rented sector, when is it the right solution? Most people aspire to own their own home and many social tenants want to stay in social housing. How large do we want the private rented sector to grow? How do we avoid pensioner poverty for households who continue to rent into retirement?
15. By 2030, there will be over a million people aged 60-74 and over 600,000 aged 75 or over with an associated increase in spend on health and social care. How do we ensure that services are more joined-up, person-centred, and with housing fully part of the answer to meet that challenge to enable older people to stay at home for longer, or to be enabled to move to more suitable accommodation which they say they want to do?
16. We know that we still need to deliver more affordable homes, but what should that look like and are targets important? Based on the current level of spend, to build a further 50,000 homes over the next parliament would cost £4 billion. This would be difficult to sustain, which means we need to think carefully about our approach considering not just how to deliver new homes, but also how to maintain, look after, and improve the ones we've got. We need to consider how we will strike the balance of realising the fiscal challenges ahead along with keeping up a strong pace on the delivery of affordable homes. What different models do we need to think about in meeting that challenge?
17. Good housing policy can help reduce inequality. As the Scottish Government works to mitigate where we can, the worst impacts of the UK Government's welfare cuts, it cannot remedy it all. Currently we have a statutory duty to meet child poverty reduction targets in 2023 and 2030 under the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017. Increasing housing affordability is a key lever in reducing poverty for households with children. Similarly, the Fuel Poverty Bill will require us to make good on targets to reduce fuel poverty in Scotland in the face of our climate emergency, erratic weather conditions and demands to do more to limit our carbon use.
18. And our approach must deliver on tackling and preventing homelessness. The Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group made 70 recommendations to end rough sleeping and homelessness and transform temporary accommodation, all of which were accepted in principle by Government and have been translated into the Ending Homelessness Together Action Plan, published jointly by the Scottish Government and COSLA in November 2018. And this programme of work must be fundamental to developing our vision for 2040.
19. So, the challenges are great and housing is sitting within a plethora of other policy areas that directly and indirectly impact on it. We need to be cognisant of that and assertive about what housing can contribute.
20. But, at this moment, we have a chance to be imaginative and creative if we choose to take it. We have a chance to really maximise the investment we make into housing for the greater good of the communities we serve. What is essential, regardless of whether we are in 2020 or 2040 and whatever technological advances are made in-between, fundamentally we need to ensure people are at the heart of design and delivery; that they are empowered and in control of the places and spaces they live in. Creating vibrant communities and making good on our vision of ensuring everyone has access to safe, warm, affordable and accessible housing requires nothing less.
Building on progress to date
21. This Government has already done much to improve the housing system in Scotland. We are proud of what we have achieved: the ending of "Right to Buy"; reforming the Private Rented Sector; full mitigation of the bedroom tax through Discretionary Housing Payments; and the introduction of the Universal Credit Scottish choices. In addition, our Affordable Housing Supply Programme will deliver at least 50,000 affordable homes by 2021, backed by over £3 billion of investment; the single biggest investment in, and delivery of, affordable housing since devolution.
22. We want to build on that progress. The presumption will be to work towards the implementation and delivery of policies and targets where these have already been set, such as the Energy Efficient Scotland route map, child poverty targets, physical activity targets and the Ending Homelessness and Rough Sleeping action plan. Where policies have been recently implemented, such as reform of the private rented sector, these will continue to be rolled out and delivered in the short to medium term. We have not yet set specific policies or targets for affordable housing delivery beyond 2021.
23. We began engaging with housing stakeholders in autumn 2018 and this report summarises the outputs from that first round of engagement.
24. In the autumn, we published a discussion paper, which set out the basic facts about the current housing system in Scotland and the major challenges we face as a country. Although we included some draft principles for discussion, we very deliberately did not offer any specific proposals in this paper. We wanted to hear the ideas, questions and concerns that this generated for housing stakeholders. We encouraged people to respond to the challenges under the following themes:
- Accessible homes for disabled people
- Affordability and supply
- Ageing population
- Child poverty
- Energy efficiency and climate change
- Place, quality and standards
- Regeneration and sustainable communities
- Welfare, wealth inequality and intergenerational inequity
25. We asked stakeholders to give us their views by 30 November 2018, and over 800 people from more than 100 organisations provided feedback. We have heard the views of a wide range of stakeholders, including local authorities, housing associations, healthcare organisations, third sector organisations covering a range of interests, tenants' groups, developers, the financial sector, and other private sector interests.
26. A launch event with senior housing stakeholders was held on 25 September 2018 hosted by Aileen Campbell MSP, the Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government, Kevin Stewart MSP, the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning and Councillor Elena Whitham, COSLA's then Community Wellbeing Spokesperson, along with Tom Barclay and Lesley Fraser, the co-chairs of the Joint Housing and Policy Delivery Group (JHPDG).
27. Views gathered at the launch event are summarised in Chapter 2. Other stakeholder views are summarised by theme in Chapter 3 anda more detailed summary of stakeholder feedback is provided at Annex A. A full list of contributors, to both the feedback collected at the launch event and the feedback subsequently submitted to the Scottish Government, is provided at Annex B.
28. The Scottish Government is very grateful to everyone who took part. The launch event, and other conversations have been lively and enthusiastic. We now have a wealth of information, views and ideas, which we have synthesised into this report; these views illustrate the complexity of the housing system and the diversity of opinions held on the future of housing. We have reported stakeholder feedback in some detail to reflect this. The material in the report does not necessarily represent the view of the Scottish Government.
29. Some consistent messages run throughout the report. It is clear that stakeholders want to see a whole-system, holistic approach; improvements to existing housing stock; a recognition of the distinct needs of Scotland's rural communities; and people, communities and place-making at the heart of planning and decision-making.
Next steps: how to get involved
30. There are lots more opportunities to help us shape the vision for Housing to 2040 and to help us develop our route map. We have begun a process of engagement with people and organisations across Scotland which will continue to the end of 2019:
Autumn 2018 – First round of stakeholder engagement on the challenges facing housing in Scotland.
Spring 2019 – Publication of this report, with links to the evidence base.
Summer 2019 – Publish a draft vision for 2040 and the principles which would help to inform the policy choices and options.
Ministers will engage with communities across Scotland to gather views on what's important for housing.
Autumn 2019 – Public consultation on Housing to 2040, including the revised vision and principles, together with the policy choices and options for practical steps to go into the route map.
Spring 2020 – Publication of the Housing to 2040 vision and route map to provide clarity on our long-term objectives to the housing sector for the next Parliament and beyond.