Housing to 2040: stakeholder engagement report 2018

A report on stakeholder feedback received following an initial phase of stakeholder engagement in autumn 2018, and an outline of next steps for housing to 2040. 

This document is part of a collection

3. Summary of stakeholder feedback by theme

1. This chapter summarises the key points that emerged from stakeholder feedback collected in response to the Housing Beyond 2021 discussion paper following the launch event on 25 September. Stakeholders were asked to provide feedback under any of the 10 specific themes set out in the discussion paper (the 'place, quality and standards' theme has since been split into two distinct themes: 'place' and 'quality and standards'). A more detailed summary of stakeholder feedback by theme is included at Annex A.

3.1 Accessible homes for disabled people

1. A key theme highlighted by stakeholders in regard to accessible homes for disabled people was the need for single, all tenure, building standards which reflect the requirement for improved accessibility standards in new homes and the need for design standards to incorporate greater flexibility.

2. Stakeholders wanted to see a national definition of accessibility for all disabilities to be established, as well as an improved definition for wheelchair accessible housing.

3. Stakeholders stressed the importance of properly resourced adaptations and the need for work to improve current service planning and delivery mechanisms. The need for increased funding for adaptations to existing stock was also highlighted, and stakeholders questioned how landlords and owners of homes could be encouraged to invest in improving the accessibility and adaptability of existing homes.

4. Stakeholders advocated the use of technology (e.g. technology enabled care) to support and enable independent living, and suggested that innovation in this sector should be promoted.

5. Stakeholders felt that improved connections for strategic planning across housing, health and social care and transport are required, and stressed the importance of neighbourhoods and communities for sustaining independent living.

6. It was suggested that the vision for Housing Beyond 2021 should focus on adequate housing as a human right for everyone, and that adopting a rights based approach to developing housing policy will ensure that the future vision for housing is built on housing stock and services that are available, accessible, appropriate and of high quality for everyone.

3.2 Affordability and supply

1. The affordability and supply theme attracted extensive comments and a wide range of views.

2. There were calls to provide a (clearer) definition of affordability, which should take account of running costs, as well as mortgage or rent payments. A wide range of stakeholders suggested further research into need and demand for affordable housing is needed going forward, taking account of the ageing population, adaptations, and household and property size, to help better understand affordability and needs.

3. A range of stakeholders noted that social landlords were facing increased financial pressures, and that these pressures need to be recognised in the context of continuing to deliver new affordable homes whilst also keeping rents affordable.

4. There was widespread support among councils and Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) for maintaining an Affordable Housing Supply Programme (AHSP) at similar, or improved, levels of financing – the view was expressed that grant support through AHSP provided for genuinely affordable, high quality homes. Similarly, a number of councils wanted to see an adequate supply of grant-funded social housing.

5. There were also calls from a range of stakeholders to address the affordability of PRS rents through more proactive capping of rents. Stakeholders noted opportunities to encourage institutional investment in the PRS to grow the supply of high standard, professionally managed accommodation, but said that they wanted to see greater security of tenure in the PRS.

6. It was noted by stakeholders that MMR filled an increasingly widening gap between social and PRS tenures. Others noted that MMR was one area which might lend itself to collaborative provision across housing associations.

7. Stakeholders wanted to see a flexible approach to account for regional differences in housing demand, as part of a holistic, place-based approach to building up local communities.

8. There were also calls to do more to tackle empty and derelict homes, including consideration of what additional incentives would bring more empty homes back into use, and changes to the housing land market and taxation system.

3.3 Ageing population

1. There was a shared sense of concern among stakeholders over the rapidly increasing ageing population and this theme attracted extensive comments from a large number of contributors.

2. Stakeholders felt that the role of health and social care is crucial to the Scottish Government's approach to housing an ageing population and that greater collaboration is required across the Scottish Government, local authorities, the NHS and other partners.

3. It was suggested that older people should be at the centre of the decision making process and consulted before any major proposals are implemented, in order to understand the nature of demands and the particular housing related challenges older people face.

4. Stakeholders felt that priority should be given to enabling older people to stay in their own homes and live independently. The importance of prompt and adequately funded home adaptations was highlighted by several stakeholders to avoid delayed hospital discharges.

5. Stakeholders felt that adaptations should include an increased use of telehealth and telecare technologies; however, it was also noted that care should be given to ensure technology assisted care is accompanied by more traditional support to help to avoid social isolation and loneliness.

6. Stakeholders noted issues regarding a perceived lack of housing options for older people with varying needs, and argued that a lack of flexible homes and suitable sheltered accommodation can discourage older people from downsizing. Where older people are living in unsuitable housing, stakeholders considered what support could be available to assist older people to move to a more suitable property (if they need and want to). Some stakeholders felt that downsizing, or "rightsizing", should be encouraged and incentivised to make better use of existing housing stock.

7. Stakeholders argued that the Scottish Government should be open to and embrace new ideas, such as co-housing, co-care, intergenerational housing, and multi-generational housing. Others wanted to see the reinvigoration of the 'sheltered housing' model.

8. The importance of good community planning, particularly in rural locations, was also highlighted, and it was felt that an 'age-friendly', adaptable approach to planning should be adopted to encourage economic participation and social interaction.

9. There was some concern among stakeholders that the PRS should be doing more to provide for a range of varying needs. However, as most older people currently own their own homes, some stakeholders felt there should be a bigger emphasis on house builders, and argued that more housing that is attractive to older people needs to be developed, as well as suitable 'lifetime homes'.

10. Finally, the importance of older people being able to access and receive good advice on their housing options was emphasised.

3.4 Brexit

1. Stakeholders expressed a wide range of concerns over the UK's withdrawal from the European Union. Stakeholders called for clarity around the Brexit negotiations and expressed the need for clear and open dialogue. They stressed the importance of joined up working between local authorities, social housing providers and government to address any challenges and opportunities that might arise.

2. Stakeholders expressed particular concerns about potential rising construction costs and the availability of funding, suggesting that a flexible approach to grant funding will be required. Loss of access to European grant funding was highlighted, but was countered with the view that funds released from these commitments could be used to support housing.

3. Stakeholders had concerns about the potential for Brexit to exacerbate the existing skills shortage, both in the construction and social care industries. There were concerns that skilled workers might move into other sectors, retire or emigrate as a result of Brexit, and cited innovation and modern methods of construction as mitigation measures.

4. Concerns were also raised about the potential increased costs for households (e.g. for food and other basic goods) and subsequent rises in poverty and homelessness, as well as a risk of rising Bank of England interest rates which could have a knock on effect for mortgage affordability and rents in the private sector.

5. Stakeholders asked that the Scottish Government consider publishing advice to housing organisations about how they can manage any Brexit-related challenges.

3.5 Child poverty

1. There was consensus among stakeholders that housing and child poverty, as with other types of poverty, are intertwined. It was recognised that there was a relationship between expensive, poor quality housing and: offending; mental health issues; educational attainment; excess winter deaths; and child and fuel poverty. It should be noted that much of the stakeholder feedback collected under this theme relate to actions already planned or underway by the Scottish Government.

2. A number of stakeholders said that they wanted child poverty to be considered in detail by local councils through the Local Housing Strategies, in order for child poverty to be better understood and the appropriate actions to be put in place locally. It was also noted that the role of social landlords was wide and that they could provide a range of services to support tenants and reduce poverty.

3. Stakeholders raised concerns over the UK Government's local housing allowance policy not keeping pace with the actual cost of renting. They noted that rising rents were often seen as a key driver of poverty and highlighted the need to ensure that rents remained affordable for tenants on low incomes without recourse to benefits.

4. Stakeholders agreed that the social security system has a vital role to play in ensuring that people who need support can afford to pay for their housing and other essentials and maintain a good quality of life. Stakeholders highlighted that the roll out of UC and other UK Government welfare reforms have resulted in an increase in rent arrears, and that many people continue to live in poverty despite Scottish Government efforts to mitigate the impacts (e.g. through DHPs).

5. Stakeholders also suggested that there needs to be a focus on ensuring that people have access to secure and reliable employment opportunities with good quality jobs to help lift families out of poverty. They felt that a cultural change within the workplace was needed to move the focus onto the employee and their needs. It was considered that this change could be led by the public sector, including widespread implementation of the living wage. A number of stakeholders highlighted the importance of ensuring that young people were prepared for employment by the time they left full time education and asked whether additional support could be provided to further develop training and employability opportunities.

3.6 Energy efficiency and climate change

1. The energy efficiency and climate change theme attracted many comments, presenting a range of views. Stakeholders were generally positive about the energy efficiency measures set out in the Scottish Government's Energy Efficient Route Map[9], but there were mixed views regarding the pace of implementation, and the level of support that should be provided.

2. Stakeholders noted that a joined-up approach across policy areas in the Scottish Government is both needed and welcomed, in order to balance priorities across housing and other policy areas.

3. Fuel poverty and affordable warmth was raised as a major challenge facing Scotland, and it was noted that it will be essential to maintain the focus on energy measures to lift households out of fuel poverty. However, there were some concerns that the level of investment required to support energy efficiency improvements might result in higher rents, which could increase fuel poverty. A number of stakeholders highlighted that investment in energy efficiency improvements should be targeted based on need, focussing on those at greatest risk of fuel poverty or those living in areas not connected to the gas grid.

4. Stakeholders welcomed the advances made in improving the condition of social housing and new build stock, but the particular challenge of improving private housing and existing stock was noted. Stakeholders indicated that there is a need to develop an approach for a practical application (and potential enforcement) of a set of universal standards.

5. A number of stakeholders stressed that support should be given to engagement, education and improving knowledge in order to highlight links between health, energy efficiency and climate change, while acknowledging the challenges of engaging people to understand the importance of energy efficiency and climate change.

6. Stakeholders wanted to see support for innovation in the energy efficiency sector and to learn from examples and best practice elsewhere in the world. Some stakeholders expressed concerns, however, that they felt there is a skills shortage in Scotland to install energy efficiency measures.

3.7 Homelessness

1. There was a consensus among stakeholders that the Scottish Government's current vision and focus on homelessness is a positive step towards improving outcomes for homeless people across Scotland, including the Housing First and Rapid Rehousing approaches.

2. Stakeholders agreed that it is important to prevent people becoming homeless by implementing a 'prevention first', joined up approach across all public services at the earliest stage.Stakeholders commented that homelessness is a complex issue that needs to be recognised as such and that tackling homelessness requires a multi-agency approach.

3. Concerns were raised with regard to the shortage of accommodation for homeless households, particularly as homeless applicants typically require smaller (one-bed) properties. Some stakeholders felt there should be an increased focus on empty homes to play a part in increasing housing supply.

4. Stakeholders also wanted the Scottish Government to maintain the momentum of the current AHSP, commenting that there is a need to keep increasing supply, focussing on delivering the right homes in the right places where need is greatest. It was suggested that cross-party consensus is needed to achieve a long term plan for supply, alongside a clear definition of affordability. Stakeholders suggested that implementing Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans (RRTPs) need to be part of a continued AHSP to meet housing needs, and indicated that, in order to deliver the Rapid Rehousing approach in the long term, there would need to be continued prioritisation given to homeless households.

5. Some stakeholders felt that more education and engagement of school pupils was required, so that students can better understand homelessness and what housing options are available to them when they leave school. It was also suggested that access to tailored housing information and advice could be improved, in particular for armed forces personnel throughout their period of service.

3.8 Place

1. There were a number of calls from stakeholders for more opportunities to promote and adopt whole place-based approaches, leading to well-designed, resilient and sustainable places. Some stakeholders felt that the vision for 2040 should be a "Vision for Living" and needs to reflect the importance of 'Place' in developing value, resilience and sustainability. Stakeholders commented that fixed, compact, well connected places should be encouraged, rather than the perpetuation of current family housing models which only meet a narrow demographic.

2. Stakeholders highlighted the importance of the role of infrastructure in unlocking development and delivering better place-making. They cited the need for the provision of infrastructure for wider facilities (e.g. schools, GP surgeries, shops) and not just housing when designing communities.

3. Some stakeholders suggested the concept of place alongside addressing inequalities should be an overarching theme of Housing Beyond 2021, noting that the Place Standard Tool was a practical approach to deliver this. Other stakeholders discussed place as a means to promote health and well-being. Well-designed sustainable places were seen as key to physical and mental well-being, healthy environments, social connectedness, reduced isolation and loneliness, recreation and economic opportunities among others.

4. A number of stakeholders mentioned the trade-off between the ability to deliver the necessary housing volumes and place and design value quality. Stakeholders commented thatit is important not to lose sight of the importance of the quality of developments that are subsequently produced.

5. Stakeholders also called for the approach to land assembly to be more focused, with public sector involvement, to help diversify supply and encourage a wider range of delivery partners, including SMEs and custom build.

6. Some stakeholders suggested that strong place-based planning should be central to the housing system. There was significant support among stakeholders for positive, meaningful community engagement, with people at the heart of decisions about the improvements and developments required for their communities. Stakeholders called for a whole-system approach to ensure all interested parties work together to improve communities.

3.9 Quality and standards

1. Stakeholders were generally positive about progress made to date to improve building quality and standards, but felt further measures could be taken to harmonise existing standards and address the barriers to improvements.

2. Stakeholders agreed that we must raise and maintain the quality of existing housing across all tenures to ensure that every home in Scotland is warm, dry and energy efficient. To help achieve this, stakeholders wanted to see one standard for all properties, across all tenures.

3. While the importance of energy efficiency and fire safety standards were recognised, stakeholders also stressed that the potential impact on rents has to be understood and balanced to keep homes affordable and alleviate child poverty.

4. It was noted that existing homes will form the vast majority of housing stock by 2040, and therefore stakeholders felt that a more strategic approach to property repair is needed. Stakeholders argued that if there is to be a genuine holistic approach to housing in Scotland, maintenance of existing stock is crucial, and the Scottish Government should give it increasing priority.

5. Stakeholders suggested that a fresh approach to incentivising improvements is needed, for example through 'help to improve' equity models. There was also some support for the continuation of existing improvement schemes subject to review and improvement.

6. Stakeholders highlighted the particular difficulties caused by fractured ownership, and expressed concerns over deteriorating conditions in mixed tenure housing blocks, in which owners remain able to block repair and improvement work. Solutions suggested by stakeholders included establishing a community charter and mandatory factoring arrangements for mixed tenure blocks.

7. Some stakeholders suggested that there should be a stronger emphasis on improving housing stock in the private sector specifically. Stakeholders noted that the private sector is not required to adhere to the same standards as social housing and questioned how energy efficiency standards will be enforced in the owner occupied sector.

8. It was noted that there needs to be a willingness on the Scottish Government's part to ensure that appropriate incentives can be offered alongside enforcement of such powers.

3.10 Regeneration and sustainable communities

1. As with the 'Place' theme, there was a strong recognition from stakeholders that a 'whole place-based' approach is needed to deliver regeneration and sustainable communities. Stakeholders felt that the adoption of this approach would enable the public sector, communities, and businesses to work together more effectively.

2. A number of stakeholders felt that the regeneration of existing homes should be given increased priority, and that the protection of existing housing stock would support the sector's long-term supply objectives.

3. A number of stakeholders commented that future housing planning and policy should be more clearly focused on the "town centre first" principle in order to provide housing close to amenities and resources. Some stakeholders felt that there needs to be more interventions to encourage private developers to move away from peripheral green field sites to brownfield sites or existing buildings in town centres.

4. Some stakeholders felt that town centre regeneration initiatives should relate to housing rather than place, including the conversion of unused shops into housing. Stakeholders noted that most town centres contain empty buildings which pose potential opportunities for residential use, but noted that the historic character of many town centres can limit opportunities for new housing. Many were concerned about the lack of funding available for town centre regeneration, especially as there tends to be higher development costs in these areas.

5. Stakeholders also raised concerns over rural depopulation, and commented that this issue requires a holistic approach which includes improving accessibility, broadband, infrastructure, renewable energy technology, transport and investment. Stakeholders also said that they would like to see more affordable homes in rural areas.

6. Many stakeholders felt that successful regeneration projects requires engagement with local communities in the planning and design process, and said that they would like to see some best practice advice for evidence participation within communities, as well as financial assistance.

3.11 Welfare, wealth inequality and intergenerational inequity

1. There was widespread concern about the impact that UK Government welfare reform measures have had on housing providers and tenants. Mitigation measures, such as DHPs, were welcomed but stakeholders remained concerned that many people continue to live in poverty, and the introduction of UC was thought to have exacerbated this. They also questioned the long term sustainability of funding mitigation measures.

2. Stakeholders raised concerns about young people and their limited future housing options compared to previous generations. Debt from further/higher education was mentioned as a factor, as well as rising rents which affected people's ability to save for a deposit and limited access to social housing. The need for incentives to encourage older people to move from bigger homes to smaller, more suitable homes was also raised. Suggested options included equity release schemes and shifting aspirational focus from owner occupation to the PRS.

3. Stakeholders highlighted the need for more advice and support to reduce the level of unclaimed benefits, as well as more promotion of existing support and schemes such as DHPs and UC Scottish Choices. There was also thought to be a need to encourage people of all ages to think more about their medium to longer term housing options.

4. Stakeholders also raised the issue of standards and the impact of increased requirements across all tenures and how this impacts on affordability, particularly for tenants who may have to pay higher rents as result, if additional support was not provided by the Scottish Government.



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