Housing Affordability Working Group minutes: September 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 14 September 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
  • Lisa Borthwick, Shelter Scotland
  • Aoife Deery, Citizens Advice Scotland
  • Dr Madhu Satsangi, School of Social and Political Sciences, Glasgow University
  • Emma Saunders, Living Rent
  • Rhiannon Sims, Crisis
  • Tony Cain, ALACHO
  • Dr John Boyle, Rettie and Co.
  • Helen Shaw, Scottish Housing Regulator
  • Colin Stewart, Social Rented Sector Tenant representative
  • Mike Callaghan, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
  • Fionna Kell, Homes for Scotland
  • Susie Fitton, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations
  • Abi Sharp, The Lines Between
  • Lorraine Simpson, The Lines Between
  • Ian Christie, The Lines Between
  • Professor Angela O'Hagan, Dept of Social Sciences, Glasgow Caledonian University


  • Dr Gillian Young, Newhaven Research Scotland
  • Joseph Jobling, Scottish Government
  • Anil Gupta, COSLA
  • John Blackwood, Scottish Association of Landlords
  • Sean Baillie, Living Rent
  • Kyna Morgan, Private Rented Sector tenant representative
  • Bel Ingham, Private Rented Sector tenant representative

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, gave a brief reminder of the intention of the group and advised that the group carrying out the research, The Lines Between would be discussing their initial findings today and will discuss their final report in next meeting in November.

Reflections on recent changes in housing affordability

  • the impact of the continuation of the cost of living crisis is severe
  • as the LHA rate freeze continues, housing is becoming more unaffordable for many people. Crisis produced a report of properties available within LHA rates in Scotland - Locked Out, Local Housing Allowance & affordability in the private rented sector in Scotland
  • homeless applications and the number of households in temporary accommodation are increasing
  • prices are still high despite inflation falling and wages haven’t kept in line with inflation
  • there are strong demographic pressures; Scotland’s population is at its highest ever level. In-migration to cities continues. Affordability will get worse without intervention
  • more affordable housing is necessary to remove pressures in the sector


  • Nicole – add Scottish Women’s Budget Group 2023 survey to eRDM Connect.
  • Nicole – add Crisis, ‘Locked Out, Local Housing Allowance & affordability in the private rented sector in Scotland’ to eRDM Connect,

Presentation from The Lines Between on the findings from the 1st phase of housing affordability focus group research

Abi and Ian from The Lines Between delivered a presentation highlighting their findings from phase one of their research.

Questions and reflections on the focus group findings so far

  • the cost of living crisis is having an ongoing impact on families and households and people are making difficult choices in order to make ends meet
  • for those on very low incomes or with very severe rent affordability problems, e.g. tenants already paying 50% or more of their income on housing costs, regulation that limits rent increases may stabilise their situation for the future but may not have a significant impact on their current affordability issues
  • local authorities already have their own definition of affordability which may be useful for TLB to consider. TLB asked if anyone in the working group could look into this for them
  • looking at whole house costs and not just rent affordability is important
  • concern around many of the participants saying that they did not see value in reaching shared value of affordability. TLB advised that there were participants in difficult situations so there was a lot of frustration around how things are just now. They understand the importance of the research but they would prefer to see action around better funding and protections
  • further protections that the participants would like are rent caps, rent freezes, stop on no-fault evictions, more regulations on deposits and AirBnB and short-term lets
  • a minimum income standard measure of affordability would need to be periodically reviewed as things such as inflation change
  • the UN definition of housing affordability (in the context of the human right to adequate housing) could be useful in discussions with future focus group participants:  "Affordability: Housing is not adequate if its cost threatens or compromises the occupants’ enjoyment of other human rights"
  • members request TLB consider the following for future focus groups:
  1. differences of experiences according to age, location and disability
  2. whether the minimum income standard approach is one that can be taken in isolation or if it would it need to be combined with a residual income approach as a way to measure the amount of income that would be needed for non-housing goods
  3. speak to people who are facing eviction due to rent arrears to see if they give a different perspective compared to participants who reported struggling to meet housing costs, but weren’t currently threatened with eviction, from focus groups phase 1
  4. what trade-offs the participants would find un/acceptable when measuring affordability


Members – can anyone help with finding out each local authority’s definition of affordability?

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

Ken finished by thanking the group for their attendance and said he appreciated the quality of the discussion as well as the presentation from The Lines Between.


The next working group meeting has been set for 15th November. 

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