Housing Affordability Working Group minutes: November 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the housing affordability working group on 15 November 2023.

Attendees and apologies

  • Professor Kenneth Gibb (Chair), UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE), and Professor of Housing Economics (Urban Studies) University of Glasgow
  • Callum Chomczuk, Chartered Institute of Housing
  • Shona Mitchell, Home Group
  • David Bookbinder, Glasgow and West of Scotland Forum of Housing Associations
  • Aoife Deery, Citizens Advice Scotland
  • Dr Madhu Satsangi, School of Social and Political Sciences, Glasgow University
  • Emma Saunders, Living Rent
  • Tony Cain, ALACHO
  • Professor Angela O'Hagan, Dept of Social Sciences, Glasgow Caledonian University
  • Edward Pybus, Homeless Network Scotland
  • Helen Shaw, Scottish Housing Regulator
  • Colin Stewart, Social Rented Sector Tenant representative
  • Fintan Kavanagh, Crisis
  • Abi Sharp, The Lines Between
  • Ian Christie, The Lines Between


  • Dr Gillian Young, Newhaven Research Scotland
  • Joseph Jobling, Scottish Government
  • Dr John Boyle, Rettie and Co.
  • Alice Tooms-Moore, Shelter Scotland
  • Rhiannon Sims, Crisis
  • Mike Callaghan, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
  • Anil Gupta, COSLA
  • John Blackwood, Scottish Association of Landlords
  • Sean Baillie, Living Rent
  • Bel Ingham, Private Rented Sector tenant representative
  • Fionna Kell, Homes for Scotland
  • Paul McGuigan, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations

Also in attendance

  • Janine Kellett, Scottish Government
  • Andrew Weild, Scottish Government
  • Nicole Pettigrew, Scottish Government
  • Amy Nimegeer, Scottish Government

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

The Chair, Ken Gibb, welcomed all members to the call and ran through the agenda for the meeting.

Previous minutes and actions

Minutes from the previous meeting were issued to members for review, there were no issues with these.

Action: Nicole – upload minutes to group’s gov.scot page and to the group’s workspace, eRDM Connect.

Presentation from The Lines Between on the findings from the 2nd phase of housing affordability focus group research, and conclusions from the whole project

The Lines Between presented their findings from phase two of the housing affordability focus group research and their final conclusions.

Questions and reflections on the focus group findings 

Working group members discussed the findings and reflected that:

  • the presentation was clear and easy to follow
  • using vignettes gave the research participants a better understanding of what information we were looking for from them 
  • some  participants believed housing should not be viewed as an asset
  • that there appeared to be a broad consensus among participants that utility bills and council tax should be considered as housing costs (broadband was mentioned by a number of participants as an expected utility bill)
  • participants thought affordability should not only include how affordable monthly upkeep of a property is, but also whether someone can afford to move into a home in the first place; start-up costs such as moving costs, deposits and multiple-months-in-advance rent means moving home is difficult for many
  • it was difficult to see any clear patterns in how affordability is felt/viewed dependent on gender, given the small sample size
  • in terms of age, older participants who were social renters were more content with indefinite renting than young people
  • some participants felt housing prices were disconnected from rent prices, with some suggesting that rents should be limited at a certain profit margin for the landlord
  • important to think about how this may tie into other conversations around things like the minimum income guarantee, the social security system, how housing costs are related to poverty
  • there are ‘affordability’ benchmarks in the system already that we need to be mindful of

Action: The Lines Between will issue the draft final report to Andrew and Nicole by Friday 17th November. Nicole will then circulate to the group.

Next steps – planning the group's remaining work and timeline

The chair provided a timeline for the group’s next steps:

  • in December members will receive a short survey that everyone should complete
  • the survey will include a mix of closed and open-ended questions to give members an opportunity to contribute to the final report and recommendations to Ministers
  • if members think their beliefs differ to their organisations, then they should answer the survey from both perspectives
  • members will be given about a month to reply and the chair would be happy to talk to members 1-2-1 once the surveys are out 
  • the chair will write a report to circulate to the members in March and give everyone a few weeks to consider it
  • the group will then meet again in April where draft recommendations will be discussed
  • the group will report to Ministers in May in the style of a short report where it will present a small number of recommendations and, ideally, a coherent, single definition focussing on rented households. However, multiple definitions may be necessary, and they may need to be revisited periodically,   but the aim is to reach consensus within the group

Action: Nicole –create survey and issue to members; add report to eRDM Connect.

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