Housing to 2040: equalities position statement

Housing to 2040: Equalities position statement

Housing to 2040 and the Protected Characteristics

The Scottish Government is mindful of its obligation under the Equality Act 2010 and the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) (Scotland) Regulations 2012. Section 149 of the Equality Act 2010 places a general duty (Public Sector Equality Duty) on public authorities to have due regard to: eliminating discrimination, harassment and victimisation; advancing equality of opportunity; and fostering good relations between persons who share a protected characteristic and those who do not. We must consider how the decisions we make will meet the three needs of the general equality duty.

Where any negative impacts are identified, we will seek to address and mitigate these. We are also mindful that the equality duty is not just about negating or mitigating negative impacts, as we also have a positive duty to promote equality. We will ensure future policy development does this by upholding the Fairer Scotland Duty and conducting Equality Impact Assessments.

To address those needs and requirements and fulfil our legal duties,  we set out the equality evidence which has informed the development of Housing to 2040 Vision and Principles and route map across the range of protected characteristics as specified in the Equality Act 2010. This evidence gathering exercise brings together what we know about how housing can impact on protected characteristics and identifies any gaps in our knowledge, providing an important source of material to inform our future policy development and research work. It sets a framework for the development of full Equality Impact Assessments conducted as the specific policies outlined in the Housing to 2040 route map are developed and implemented in future.

6.1      Age

6.1.1   Older People

Scotland faces a number of demographic challenges, one of which is an ageing population. The chart below illustrates that the number of households headed by someone aged 70 and over is projected to increase by 55% by 2043 compared to a drop of 2% for those under 70.[i]

Projected number of households, by age of the head of household

Source: National Records of Scotland, 2018

Scotland’s ageing population was one of the key themes in the Housing to 2040 stakeholder engagement which took place in 2018. It also featured extensively in the responses to the Housing to 2040 public consultation in 2019/20. Main feedback from stakeholders included concerns with regards to the rapidly increasing ageing population, the role of health and social care in the Scottish Government’s approach to housing, the importance of involvement of older people at the centre of decision-making. Prompt and adequately funded home adaptations, use of technology to improve accessibility, flexible housing options for older people with varying needs, alternative housing models (co-housing, co-care, intergenerational housing and multi-generational housing), ‘age-friendly’ and adaptable approach to planning, house building attractive to older people and finally, access to advice on housing options for older people were also raised by stakeholders as key areas to focus on. Stakeholders also raised issues such as a significant shortage of accessible housing in relation to both old and new housing stock and the need for this to be addressed; the need for better regulations for adaptations and new housing; challenges associated with enforcement of regulations; and called for a single government framework for adaptations regardless of tenure. Stakeholders also called for further support for independent living and support for people wishing to downsize.

Older people might be more likely to experience a range of housing disadvantages. Most older people and people with disabilities live in mainstream homes and want to continue to do so, but these properties may or may not meet their current needs. There is a considerable number of people whose needs are not being met and who are not able to choose a home or way of living that meets their needs. A 2018 report on housing issues affecting disabled people by the Equality and Human Rights Commission[ii] set out a summary of the position in Scotland, highlighting that 61,000 people need adaptations to their home. Projections for the future suggest the challenge will only increase without action. By 2040, it is projected that there will be over 730,000 people in Scotland aged 75 or over[iii], putting much greater demand on housing and health and social care services to help people to live independently at home. It is therefore evident that the need for accessible housing will increase as the population continues to age.

In addition, the 2019 Scottish House Condition Survey[iv] highlighted that older people are more likely to live in less energy efficient homes. A lower proportion of older households (36%) live in dwellings with the highest energy efficiency EPC[v] Bands B or C (SAP 2012 v9.93) than families (55%) or other households (46%). The same report also explored the relationship between fuel poverty and households, concluding that fuel poverty is higher amongst older households (27%) and other households (27%) compared to families (17%).[vi] The Scottish Household Survey[vii] shows that within the social rented sector, 18% of households are single pensioner households, and 8% are ‘older smaller’ households.

We also recognise that older people are amongst those who have experienced disproportionate impacts as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with multiple disadvantage making things even harder for many.[viii]

6.1.2   Children and Young People

Children and young people also face particular housing challenges.

Child poverty featured as one of the key themes in Housing to 2040 stakeholder engagement and the public consultation. There was consensus among stakeholders that housing and child poverty are inextricably linked and that there is a relationship between expensive, poor quality housing and offending; mental health issues; educational attainment; excess winter deaths; and child and fuel poverty. Affordability of homes; rising rents; the roll out of Universal Credit resulting in the increase of rent arrears; and access to secure and reliable employment were also highlighted as factors impacting on child poverty levels.

According to available evidence, nearly a quarter of all children in Scotland (23%, 230,000) were living in relative poverty in 2018/19.[ix] It should  however be noted that levels of relative child poverty in Scotland, after housing costs, were six percentage points lower than the UK as a whole in 2016-19.[x]

As a majority of lone parents are women, the multiple barriers faced by them throughout their lives may form a contributing factor to child poverty, demonstrating not only intersectionality of those with different protected characteristics but also the continuing inequality women, and their children, experience.

Around a quarter of households assessed as homeless in Scotland are from people under 25, with a higher proportion of these being applicants who are women.[xi] We are also aware that young people, especially those leaving care, may be more likely to be hidden from services and therefore from official records because they are “sofa surfing” or living in other informal, unstable circumstances. Evidence also suggests that younger households (age 16-34) are less likely to be owner/occupiers, falling from 53% in 1999 to 30% in 2014, but has reversed over recent years, rising to 38% in 2019.[xii] The proportion of households with a Highest Income Householder (HIH) aged between 16 and 34 years living in the private rented sector increased substantially from 13% in 1999 to 41% in 2015, but has since decreased to 38% cent in 2019. Correspondingly, the percentage of these households owned with a mortgage increased from 30% in 2014 to 38% in 2019.[xiii] Older women are more likely to live alone (32% of women aged 50+ vs 22% of men in 2011).

Drawing on available evidence, young people are also amongst the group of people that are anticipated to be hardest hit financially as a result of the impact of Covid-19.[xiv] While the employment rate for those aged 16-24 is lower than for those in older age groups[xv], younger people are also more likely to be working in sectors hard-hit by COVID-19 such as retail, leisure and entertainment[xvi] [xvii], and also to be working part-time on less secure contracts at a UK level.[xviii] Evidence also indicates that, even before the pandemic, younger people were more likely to be financially vulnerable and in unmanageable debt.[xix] The combination of the above factors means that younger households are especially vulnerable to unemployment and long-term employment ‘scarring’[xx] in future. The combination of the insecurity of their employment and their financial vulnerability suggest that young people might be limited when it comes to their housing choices and this might also impact on their ability to take on and maintain tenancies.

Care experienced children and young people, and those leaving care, are more likely to face particular challenges. These include mental health issues; poor education outcomes and lower educational attainment; housing and homelessness issues[xxi]; and a lower likelihood of achieving a positive destination when they leave care. Follow The Money[xxii], one of the final reports published by the Independent Care Review in February 2020, highlights that care experienced people are likely to have more than double the chance of experiencing homelessness compared to their non care-experienced peers, mainly before the age of 30. They are also over one and a half times more likely to experience severe multiple disadvantages, including homelessness, substance use mental health issues and offending. The report also suggests that care experienced people are over three times more likely not to have a job by the age of 26, and when they do, they earn incomes which are 27% lower on average than their non-care experienced peers. They have an over one and a half times greater chance of experiencing financial difficulties and are nearly twice as likely to have no internet at home. Drawing out from the evidence highlighted above, the lower incomes and poorer employment prospects experienced by care experienced people might impact on their ability to access mainstream housing and might also limit their housing choices overall.

The Housing to 2040 Vision and Principles and route map recognise the challenges outlined above for both older and younger generations and the anticipated demographic changes which the population of Scotland is likely to face over the next two decades. It puts a strong focus on ensuring that everyone lives in warm, safe, affordable and accessible housing that meets people’s needs and the role of housing in tackling child poverty. Work to continue to deliver affordable homes and tackle high rents in the rented sector are key areas of work which will seek to reduce child poverty levels in Scotland. The route map sets out specific actions which will help to address the challenges faced by these groups. These include but are not limited to:

  • Continued investment in affordable homes
  • Bespoke pathways to prevent homelessness and address it when it does occur
  • Work to improve affordability and choices in the rented sector
  • Further support for self-build
  • A new tenure-neutral Housing Standard
  • A new Scottish Accessible Homes Standard
  • Work to improve the adaptations system

6.2      Disability

According to the 2018 Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report[xxiii]  on housing issues affecting disabled people, Scotland’s disabled population faces considerable housing challenges. Appropriate and accessible housing is the cornerstone of independent living and can transform people’s lives for better, yet many disabled people across Scotland live in homes that do not meet their needs.  The report highlights the scale of the issue and states that only approximately 1% of housing is fully accessible for wheelchair users; 61,000 people need adaptations to their home; and almost 10,000 disabled Scots are on housing waiting lists. We also recognise that the need for accessible housing will increase as the population continues to age.

The 2018 EHRC report[xxiv] highlighted four main housing challenges faced by disabled people in Scotland:

  • Demoralisation and frustration with the housing system
  • Chronic shortage of accessible and wheelchair-accessible homes across all tenures
  • Home adaptations installation involving unacceptable bureaucracy and delay
  • Lack of support and advice to enable people to live independently

Feedback from the Housing to 2040 stakeholder engagement and public consultation also highlighted a number of housing challenges for people with disabilities. This included a shortage of and increasing need for accessible housing across all tenures (also for specific groups such as people with learning disabilities, people with MND, Gypsy/Travellers and people with dementia. Stakeholders also called for single all tenure building standards and a national definition of accessibility for all disabilities to be established (including improved definition for wheelchair accessible housing). The role of building regulations, affordability and adequate resourcing of adaptations and for existing stock to be adapted to meet people’s needs were also raised. Stakeholders feedback also focused on the importance of alternative housing models (e.g. co-housing) and support to downsize;  greater use of technology to support independent living; improved connections for strategic planning across housing, health and social care and transport; and a focus on adequate housing as a human right for everyone. Stakeholders also emphasised the importance of independent living and adaptations being a catalyst in enabling people to remain in their own home for longer and maintain their independence. The travelling exhibition Final Report ‘Present Voice, Future Lives’[xxv], published by the Scottish Government in 2021, also highlighted the need for houses which can adapt and change with their occupants over the course of a lifetime, particularly as they grow older and potentially encounter mobility issues.

A high level of need for housing adaptations was also evidenced amongst disabled people in the Scottish House Condition Survey.[xxvi] The existing evidence suggests that social rented properties were more likely to have an adult whose main economic status is permanently sick or disabled (12%) in 2017 than all other tenures – private rented households (4%), households buying their property with a mortgage (1%), and households owning their property outright (2%).[xxvii] In addition, in 2017, 45% of adults in social rented housing reported having a disability, a figure much higher than the proportion of adults with a disability in private rented accommodation (21%) and adults buying with a mortgage (16%), and also higher than the equivalent figure for adults living in owned outright properties (33%).[xxviii] Data from the latest Scottish Household Survey Annual Report also suggest a higher percentage of disabled people living in the social rented sector. In 2019, 59% of social rented households had someone with a disability living in the household. This figure is higher than the equivalent percentages for households in private rented accommodation (29%), households buying with a mortgage (25%), and households owning their property outright (47%). This suggests disabled people are far more likely than non-disabled people to be in socially rented housing and much less likely to be buying their home with the help of a loan/mortgage.[xxix] This can be explained by social housing being more affordable, tending to provide more security of tenure and landlords being more willing to install adaptations and provide support, if required.[xxx] On the contrary, disabled people face particular problems in the private rented sector where adaptations can be more difficult to secure. However, whilst social housing appears to address the needs of disabled population better, it faces particular pressures and has long waiting lists.[xxxi] Disabled people also face challenges when finding suitable temporary accommodation, with the SRAB’s report[xxxii] emphasizing that there is limited temporary accommodation options for wheelchair users. Furthermore, it has been also well evidenced that living in unsuitable accommodation can also cause serious deterioration in mental wellbeing for disabled people.[xxxiii]

Poverty rates for disabled people are higher than for all Scotland[xxxiv] and disabled people are also disproportionately impacted by fuel poverty. It is estimated that around 31% of households containing a household member with a long-term sickness or disability were in fuel poverty in 2019.[xxxv]

The costs of inaccessible housing are far-reaching and inextricably linked and include impacts on independent living, increased need for social care, more reliance on carers and family members, accidents (including those that are life-changing or fatal) and avoidable hospital admissions.[xxxvi] Available evidence however suggests that housing that meets people’s requirements will save on health and social care costs in the future, as well as considerably lowering the cost of adaptations when they are needed.[xxxvii] And whilst the financial and human costs of living in unsuitable and inaccessible housing are wide-ranging and can be detrimental, when it comes to support and advice, disabled people face yet another challenge. The 2018 EHRC report highlighted that disabled people face difficulties when accessing advice, support and advocacy support to claim their right to independent living, in particular with regards to uneven and insufficient support provision and their ability to navigate through a complex systems for allocations and adaptations.

The available evidence also suggests that disabled people are amongst the group of people who are anticipated to be hardest hit financially as a result of the impact of Covid-19. Families with disabled members are more likely to be in poverty.[xxxviii] The SRAB’s report ‘If not now, when?’[xxxix] published in 2021 highlighted that disabled people have seen their rights breached or put at risk throughout the pandemic. The withdrawal of care and support services and the absence of consultation, involvement and communication has left disabled people and their families further marginalised, isolated, their immediate needs unmet and their future relationship with funded services and providers insecure. Even pre-pandemic, disabled people were far less likely to be employed and may be less likely to have access to ‘fair work’.[xl] [xli] At the UK level, disabled people were  also known to earn less on average than non-disabled people, meaning that the impact of any income reduction is likely to be particularly damaging.[xlii] It is also anticipated that the pandemic could impact disabled people’s employment as they are more likely to be employed in some shutdown sectors (e.g. distribution, hotels and restaurants).[xliii] [xliv] Drawing on the evidence highlighted above, employment and financial challenges may limit housing choices for this group of population further and might make it more difficult to sustain their current housing provision going forward.

Housing to 2040 seeks to ensure that the housing inequalities affecting disabled people are recognised and mitigated. The route map sets out specific actions which include but are not limited to:

  • A new tenure-neutral Housing Standard
  • A new Scottish Accessible Homes Standard
  • Work to improve the adaptations system
  • Work at national and local levels to embed a person centred approach, that aligns housing support with social care services, so people have choices and flexibility to live independently.

6.3      Gender Reassignment

At the time of writing this Position Statement, only limited evidence is available on the Gender Reassignment Protected Characteristic. While the available evidence is limited, it provides a valuable insight into the issues people within this group experience throughout their lives, and depicts the disadvantages they face in relation to both their identity and housing situation.

No suggestions or views with regards to the Gender Reassignment protected characteristic were raised during any part of the Housing to 2040 consultation process.

Stonewall Scotland’s report published in 2018, ‘LGBT in Britain – Trans Report’[xlv], was based on findings from research with 871 trans and non-binary people living in the UK (England, Scotland and Wales), and concluded with a number of findings highlighting the disadvantages and vulnerabilities that people within this group face in their everyday life. The report found that half of trans people (51%) have hidden their identity at work for fear of discrimination and that two in five trans people (41%) and three in ten non-binary people (31%) have experienced a hate crime or incident because of their gender identity in the last 12 months. It further explored that more than a quarter of trans people (28%) in a relationship in the last year have faced domestic abuse from a partner, and that one in four trans people (25%) have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives.

The issue of homelessness was also examined in the Scottish Transgender Alliance Survey published in 2012.[xlvi] The survey found that 19% of 542 respondents reported having been homeless at some point, with 11% having been homeless more than once. A total of 171 respondents provided information about the reasons for having to leave their home: 7% stated that they had left their parental home due to people’s reactions upon finding out that they were trans or had a trans history, 6% had left a home shared with a partner, 4% had left a home that was shared with other people, 3% had had to leave their own home which they lived in alone due to other people’s reactions to their trans status.

The focus on equality and human rights in Housing to 2040 will ensure that housing and housing-related policy development over the course of the next 20 years will consider and aim to understand and tackle any specific disadvantages people with this protected characteristic may experience. The route map sets out the commitment we have already made to develop and embed homelessness prevention pathways for groups at risk of homelessness due to domestic abuse. The recommendations for preventing homelessness for women and children experiencing domestic abuse in the social housing sector have already been published. As the work progresses we will seek to address the specific needs of people who share the characteristic of gender reassignment, to ensure they receive the right support and their homelessness is avoided. The route map sets out specific actions we will take forward to do this which include but are not limited to:

  • Developing homelessness prevention legislation to ensure public bodies across Scotland have responsibilities for preventing homelessness.
  • Embedding homelessness prevention pathways for particular groups at risk of homelessness and rough sleeping,
  • Implement and embedding homelessness prevention pathways for:
    • Individuals released from prison sentences and remand
    • Young people leaving care
    • Young people
    • Victims of domestic abuse
    • Veterans
  • Bringing forward a new Housing Bill early in the next Parliament to strengthen tenants’ rights and improve the rights of victims of domestic abuse.

6.4      Marriage and Civil Partnership

The evidence available for the Marriage and Civil Partnership Protected Characteristic is relatively limited. It is, however, possible to explore certain patterns and better understand the housing situation and housing outcomes of this group from the evidence available.

No recommendations or views with regards to the Marriage and Civil Partnership protected characteristic were suggested by stakeholders taking part in any aspect of the Housing to 2040 consultation process.

Evidence suggests that those who are married or in a civil partnership are slightly more likely to own their home outright. Figures from the Scottish Surveys Core Questions published in 2018[xlvii] show that there was a higher percentage of adults who owned their homes outright who were married or in a civil partnership (60%) compared to those who owned their homes by mortgage (56%), those who lived in the private rented sector (26%) an those who lived in the social rented sector (25%).

The survey also explored figures for this group across all housing tenures. It shows that for adults living in social rented housing, 48% have never been married, 25% are married or in a civil partnership, 4% are separated, 14% are divorced or have had a dissolved civil partnership, and 9% are widowed or are a bereaved civil partner. A higher proportion of adults living in the private rented sector have never been married (62%) compared to those in the social rented sector (48%), those who owned their homes with a mortgage (35%) and those who owned their homes outright (18%). There was also a slightly higher percentage of adults in the social rented sector who were separated (4%) compared to people in the private rented sector (3%), those who owned their homes with a mortgage (2%) and those who owned their homes outright (1%). A higher percentage of adults were divorced or had experienced a dissolved civil partnership in social rented homes (14%), compared to those in the private rented sector (7%), people in mortgaged homes (6%) and those who owned their homes outright (7%). Lastly, a higher percentage of adults who had been widowed or were a bereaved civil partner owned their homes outright (14%) compared to those who lived in social rented homes (9%), privately rented homes (2%) and those who owned their homes through a mortgage (1%).[xlviii]

In terms of poverty, the Poverty and Income Inequality in Scotland report published in 2020 by the Scottish Government[xlix] suggests that in 2016-19, 13% (270,000) of adults who were married or in a civil partnership were living in relative poverty after housing costs. This compares to 20% (120,000) co-habiting adults, 27% (260,000) of single adults, 17% (50,000) of widowed adults and 26% (90,000) of adults who were divorced, had their civil partnership dissolved or were separated.

Housing to 2040 will aim to ensure that housing and housing-related policy development will consider and address any housing disadvantages people with this protected characteristic may experience as a result of their marital status.

6.5      Pregnancy and Maternity

No recommendations or views with regards to the Pregnancy and Maternity protected characteristic were suggested by stakeholders taking part in the Housing to 2040 stakeholder engagement and consultation process.

The relationship between lack of material resources and poor health, including during pregnancy, is well established, and the birth of a new baby can result in those close to the poverty line falling below it.[l] Pregnancy brings a period of sudden increased financial pressure and sustained money worries have been reported following a birth of a baby[li], increasing a risk of child poverty. The issue of child poverty is discussed in chapter 6.1 Age, however, we recognise that there are instances during pregnancy and early months of maternity that are likely to drive child poverty further. An intersectional approach should therefore be taken to consider the relationship between child poverty and pregnancy and maternity.

Evidence suggests that households with children aged 0-4 are at high risk of poverty.[lii] The risk, however, is much higher when the youngest child is aged less than one year old. Families with a new child are more likely to enter poverty, even when controlling for other factors.[liii] The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) research from 2015 found a quarter of ‘new families’ are in poverty in the year after having their first child. For new lone parents, this figure was much higher.[liv]

Young mothers are a specifically vulnerable group within this Protected Characteristic. Young mothers tend to generally have lower educational levels compared to  older mothers when their first child is born.[lv] Although young mothers do resume their education at a later stage, they remain less well educated compared to older mothers who have continued to upgrade their qualifications at a higher rate. Young mothers were also less likely to be in work when their first child was 10 months old, with education being found to be a key predictor of later employment.[lvi] Given lower employment and educational levels, prevalence of low income is higher for young mothers, with a high proportion of that income coming from various social security entitlements.[lvii] This might also impact on housing options for young mothers which, as a result, are likely to be restricted. In addition, given that young mothers are overrepresented in low income employment, they might also face challenges around housing affordability and  sustaining tenancies.

In terms of the impact of Covid-19, lone parents form a particularly vulnerable group. Evidence suggests that the majority of lone parents are women who, even before the pandemic, were much more likely to be in debt and/or financially vulnerable.[lviii] [lix] Lone parents are one of the groups on which the economic effects of the COVID-19 crisis are impacting disproportionately. Households with only one earner are more vulnerable to the impacts of earnings reductions or losses and lone parents may be less likely to have someone to share childcare with, making paid work harder.[lx] Half of single parent households are in the social rented sector, and while the ban on evictions offers some temporary protection, paying back missed rent may be very difficult for many.[lxi] In addition, lone parents are also more likely to live in more deprived areas. The combination of the above disadvantages may result in more lone parents being pushed into poverty in future years.[lxii]

The Housing to 2040 Vision and Principles and route map puts a strong focus on ensuring that everyone lives in warm, safe, affordable and accessible housing that meets people’s needs. As the route map is taken forward, we will continue to ensure that we address any disadvantages faced by people during pregnancy and maternity.

6.6      Race/Ethnicity

The 2011 Census[lxiii] showed that the 'White: Scottish' group made up 84% of Scotland's 5.3 million population, while the 'White: Other British' group made up 8%. Other non-British 'White' groups made up a further 4%. Minority ethnic groups made up the remaining 4% of the population. In 2014-19, people from non-white minority ethnic groups were more likely to be in relative poverty after housing costs compared to those from the 'White - British' and 'White - Other' groups.[lxiv]

In the Housing to 2040 stakeholder engagement in 2018[lxv] and during the public consultation in 2019/20, stakeholders highlighted that the needs of ethnic minority older people with complex needs were not being met by current service provision, and that appropriately sized affordable houses should be built  across all tenures to meet specific local and cultural needs. Respondents highlighted that the cultural needs of the Gypsy/Traveller population should be better understood and grants and funding available for bricks and mortar housing cannot be accessed for Gypsy/Traveller sites. A number of stakeholders also called for Gypsy/Travellers’ need for accessible housing to be better met in future. The need for a range of house sizes to meet demand was again raised.

In the period 2013 to 2017, 86% of adults in social rented households stated they were ‘White Scottish’, 6% of adults stated they were ‘White Other British’, 3% said they were ‘White Polish’, 2% stated they were ‘White Other’, 1% said they were ‘Asian, Asian Scottish or Asian British’, 1% said they were ‘African, Caribbean or Black’, and 1% said they were another ethnic group.[lxvi]

People from minority ethnic communities are more likely to rent privately or be owner/occupiers, often in poorer quality housing stock.[lxvii] Reasons for this include some ethnic minority groups viewing the private rented sector as an attractive alternative to the social rented sector due to a greater choice of properties and neighbourhoods. Recent research shows that for some groups, a fear of racial harassment can influence housing decisions and impact on the attractiveness of the social rented sector, with some minority ethnic groups reporting difficulty in finding social housing in areas perceived to be free from racial harassment.[lxviii] Minority ethnic groups may also be less likely or unable to access mainstream housing services to access support.[lxix] Due to over-representation of some ethnic groups in the private rented sector, the relatively higher rents in this sector may be a negative consequence for those groups.[lxx]

Combined 2016-2019 Scottish House Condition Survey (SHCS) data demonstrates that a significantly higher proportion of households with a non-white minority ethnic Highest Income Householder (HIH) were overcrowded (7%), compared to households with a white Scottish/British HIH (2%).[lxxi] 'White: Polish', 'Bangladeshi' and 'African' households had the highest rates of overcrowding, as found in an analysis of equality results from the 2011 census – part 2.[lxxii] This may be due to larger household sizes and extended families living together, lower availability of  housing of a sufficient size that is affordable and/or housing being outwith desired locations.

As mentioned above, people from minority ethnic groups were more likely to be in relative poverty after housing costs. The poverty rate was 39% for the 'Asian or Asian British' ethnic groups, and 38% for 'Mixed, Black or Black British and Other' ethnic groups.[lxxiii] The poverty rate amongst the 'White - Other' group was 25% (80,000 people) and that of the 'White - British' group was 18% (860,000 people).[lxxiv] Combined 2017-2019 data from the Scottish Household Survey (SHS) indicates that some minority ethnic HIH households were also more likely to be living in some of the most deprived areas in Scotland compared to white Scottish/British HIH households.[lxxv]

Approximately 14% of Gypsy/Travellers  in 2011 lived in caravans, or other mobile or temporary structures. Gypsy/Travellers are half as likely to own their homes and twice as likely to live in rented accommodation as the general population.[lxxvi] Research evidence published in Is Scotland Fairer and confirmed by Scottish Government’s analysis of the 2011 Census shows that on every indicator of what is required to live a happy, productive and fulfilled life, Gypsy/Travellers are worse off than any other community in Scotland. The high levels of poverty experienced by Gypsy/Travellers is linked to poor health and the lack of employment and integral to all these issues is the provision of sites across the country. The evidence base also suggests that there continues to be a shortage of permanent sites for Gypsy/Traveller communities in Scotland and where sites do exist they can be of poor quality or do not adequately serve those living there. ‘Improving the Lives of Gypsy/Travellers: 2019-2021’[lxxvii], a joint action plan by the Scottish Government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), seeks to provide more and better accommodation, detailing a range of actions to achieve this. It became clear that further work must be done to better understand the needs of the community in order to deliver these actions, and work is ongoing to address this.

In terms of the impact of Covid-19, the available evidence suggests that people of minority ethnicities are experiencing the economic effects of this crisis harder. They are more likely to work in some ‘shut down’ sectors, in particular hospitality, and less likely to have savings. Their employment was disproportionately impacted by the previous economic recession, with profound implications on living standards and overall income and wealth equality.[lxxviii] Available evidence also suggests that adults of visible minority ethnicities are less likely to be employed than White adults, and this is affecting minority ethnic women in particular. They are also less likely to have access to ‘fair work’. The SRAB’s report[lxxix] published in 2021 further highlighted that, for minority ethnic people in Scotland, COVID-19 has had disproportionate impact on their health and economic wellbeing as a consequence of racialised discrimination in employment, housing provision, and household structures. Given the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 crisis on this group, we may anticipate that housing choices for those of minority ethnicities might be very limited as a result and that they are also more likely to face  further challenges with housing affordability going forward.

Housing to 2040 acknowledges the need to address the particular housing challenges faced by minority ethnic communities. To address this, we will act on what we already know and improve our evidence base. This includes our ongoing commitment to meet the needs of the Gypsy/Traveller community and work to ensure the needs of minority ethnic communities are met through supply of affordable homes, work to drive improvements in the rented sector and further research to better understand the challenges faced in accessing social housing. Specifically, we will take forward the following actions set out in the route map:

  • Ensure that minority ethnic voices are heard in our work to develop a new Rented Sector Strategy.
  • Continue to support the delivery of homes that meet the needs of minority ethnic communities, including larger homes where those are needed, through the Affordable Housing Supply Programme.
  • Include specific consideration of the needs of this group in our review of the adaptations system.
  • Take forward further research work with people from minority ethnic groups to better understand and address the barriers they face to accessing social housing.
  • Carry out a review of the evidence of minority ethnic people’s representation in employment in the housing sector in 2021 and support the sector in identifying and taking forward resulting actions.
  • Make up to £20 million available over five years for more and better Gypsy/Traveller accommodation from 2021/22, which represents a sustained investment to support local authorities to improve and widen access to Gypsy/Traveller accommodation. We will also continue to work with Gypsy/Traveller communities to make sure their needs are embedded in housing and planning policy.

6.7      Religion or Belief

Relatively limited evidence is available for the Religion or Belief Protected Characteristic at the time of writing this Position Statement.

Stakeholders in the Housing 2040 engagement process did not provide any suggestions, views or recommendations on the Religion or Belief Protected Characteristic during the Housing to 2040 consultation exercises.

Data published in the Social Tenants in Scotland in 2017 publication[lxxx] suggests that homes owned outright have a much higher proportion of households who are Church of Scotland Christian (40%), compared to 22% in social rented, 21% in buying with a mortgage and 10% in private rented households. This may have some relation to the age of households given that households which own outright are older on average. The same report also found out that in the period from 2013 to 2017, 53% of adults in social rented housing said they had no religion, an increase on the 45% between 2009 and 2012. The percentage of adults with a Church of Scotland religion decreased over this time period from 29% to 22%, whilst the proportion with a Roman Catholic religion stayed similar from 18% to 17%.

Figures in the Scottish Surveys Core Questions published in 2018[lxxxi] show that for adults living in the socially rented sector, 51% identify as having ‘no religion’, 21% identify as Church of Scotland Christian, 16% identify as Roman Catholic, 7% identify as Other Christian, 2% identify as Muslim and 2% identify as having other religions. In addition, the report also found that, whilst 51% of people who lived in the social rented sector have identified as having ‘no religion’, this was lower than those who owned their homes with a mortgage (57%) and those in the private rented sector (57%) but was higher than those with homes that are owned outright (40%).

Housing to 2040 will seek to respond to any disadvantages particular religious or belief groups may face, ensuring that the housing policy landscape is equipped to consider and address these over the next 20 years.

6.8      Sex

In the Housing to 2040 stakeholder engagement[lxxxii] that took place in 2018, stakeholders highlighted the need for a gendered analysis of how the housing system works and the disadvantages faced by women. Stakeholders also agreed that there should 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, and that further efforts to close the gender pay gap are needed to ensure that no matter who is working within a family, they are able to provide a sustainable income.

Evidence suggests that more men make homelessness applications than women (in 2019/20, 46% of households assessed as homeless were single male, compared to 20% for single female).[lxxxiii] However, a report by Engender[lxxxiv] highlights that large numbers of women in precarious housing situations do not engage with homelessness services and therefore remain hidden. We recognise that men and women have different experiences of housing and homelessness, from women’s pathways into and out of homelessness, through interactions with housing services, to access to affordable housing and housing of an adequate standard, including in the private market.

The biggest difference between men’s and women’s homelessness is domestic abuse, which is the main driver and reason for women applying as homeless.[lxxxv] This experience is further exacerbated as  the woman experiencing abuse is often forced to leave their home, rather than the male perpetrator.

Evidence also suggests that certain groups of women are more likely to experience housing instability, poor housing, homelessness or negative treatment by housing services, partly due to perceived stigma and shame and because homeless services are not designed for women and do not understand or respond to their needs. This includes women from ethnic minorities, disabled and refugee women, women who have been in the criminal justice system, LGBTI (particularly transgender) women, older and younger women, women involved in prostitution, lone parents and women with other caring responsibilities.[lxxxvi]

There are also clear gender impacts associated with housing wealth following divorce and household dissolution. Divorced men are more likely to re-enter home ownership and less likely to suffer prolonged financial hardship in the long term than women.[lxxxvii] In the event of separation or the loss of a partner, women can be especially vulnerable to entering poverty. Available evidence suggests that lone parents, the vast majority of whom are women, also struggle to receive the Child Maintenance that they are entitled to from the non-resident parent, which can exacerbate the risk of poverty. However, even in two adult households, having a child leads to many women leaving or downgrading their career in order to balance caring responsibilities.[lxxxviii]

Women’s housing situations are influenced by their unequal access to resources and safety, whether with respect to pathways into and out of homelessness; as the majority of renters in social housing; or as the minority of homeowners in Scotland.[lxxxix] Social rented households in Scotland in 2017 had a higher proportion of woman highest income householders (54%) than private rented households (43%), households with the property bought with a mortgage (33%) and households where the property was owned outright (39%). In 2019, 25% of social rented households included children.[xc]

Women are also disproportionately affected by caring responsibilities. Such inequality in caring responsibility drives aspects of the gender pay gap. While gender gaps in participation in the paid labour market have narrowed over time, women are still less likely to participate, and when they do participate, it is more likely to be on a part-time basis. Women are also over represented in some areas, often referred to as the 5 C’s of caring, cashiering, catering, cleaning and clerical. These sectors have historically low pay, low progression and low status but can often provide more flexibility.[xci] As highlighted by the recent pandemic, however, and due to their employment status, such jobs are more vulnerable to economic shocks which affect women’s employment and their ability to meet rents and other essential costs. This financial hit may in turn lead to challenges related to affordability of housing costs and the increased risk of homelessness.[xcii] [xciii] While women are expected to face larger longer-term negative labour market outcomes as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, early labour market evidence[xciv] suggests that so far, men have seen greater levels of inactivity, greater rates of furlough and reduction in hours worked, which has impacted on their employment income. This immediate impact on males could be due to women being partly insulated from job losses through higher employment in education and health and social care and high rates of job losses in male dominated sectors such as construction. However, this may be temporary, as women could still face larger impacts longer term through being over-represented in part-time and insecure work. A sustained weaker labour market may also result in women being more vulnerable than men to job losses longer term, as well as making it more challenging to find employment.[xcv]

As a result of lower income from earnings and their care role, women tend to rely on social security for a higher proportion of their income. This was also outlined in the Gender and housing: Engender – A Woman’s Place – gender, housing and homelessness in Scotland report[xcvi], according to which women are also more likely to be reliant on social security to cover housing costs.

Overall, UK-focused literature suggests that women’s housing situation is generally poorer than that of men in terms of housing size[xcvii], they are more likely to have housing affordability problems and their specific needs are neither well understood nor appropriately met.[xcviii]

In addition, the Equality and Fairer Scotland Duty Assessment of the Health and Social Impacts of COVID-19 published by the Scottish Government in 2020[xcix] highlighted the risks of COVID-19 on women and girls in Scotland. This, among others, include increased levels of domestic abuse with the inability of some women to access the usual routes of support and safety.[c] [ci] [cii] In many cases the rise in domestic abuse will have significant negative impacts on housing, health, social, education and employment outcomes. Women with ‘no recourse to public funds’ due to their immigration status may be even more vulnerable to domestic abuse and their visa condition can make it difficult to access refuge accommodation.[ciii] Language barriers; being part of a minority ethnic group; being disabled; and having complex needs such as requiring mental health or substance use support are also factors that make accessing available support and finding refuge accommodation more difficult.[civ]

While the Housing to 2040 consultation that took place in 2019/20 did not yield any gender-specific suggestions and/or views from stakeholders, Housing to 2040 aims to alleviate the disadvantages that women experience in the housing system and ensure that women are empowered to realise, articulate and claim their right to housing in a way that addresses their experiences of housing disadvantage in all of its wide-ranging aspects. Specific elements of the route map which seek to address include but are not limited to:

  • A bespoke homelessness prevention pathway for victims of domestic abuse
  • A new Rented Sector Strategy which will ensure the voices with those with protected characteristics shape its development
  • Work to tackle unreasonably high rents in the private rented sector
  • Work to protect tenants experiencing domestic abuse from eviction
  • A continued focus on delivery of affordable homes

6.9      Sexual Orientation

The available evidence clearly highlights that people with the Sexual Orientation Protected Characteristic face a range of inequalities across a number of areas and settings including, but not limited to, employment, healthcare, education, housing and homelessness.

The Housing to 2040 stakeholder engagement and public consultation did not yield any views, suggestions or recommendations by stakeholders on the Sexual Orientation Protected Characteristic.

Stonewall Scotland’s report[cv] highlighted that LGBT people are vulnerable to and at increased risk of homelessness, highlighting that almost one in five LGBT people (18%) have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives. LGBT young people in particular are disproportionately represented in the young homeless population. As many as 24% of young homeless people are LGBT, and 77% state that their LGBT identity was a causal factor in becoming homeless, with 69% of homeless LGBT young people having experienced violence, abuse or rejection from the family home.[cvi] The Homeless Network Scotland report[cvii] also highlighted that one in four LGBT people experience domestic abuse; the same rate as heterosexual women. They also face particular vulnerabilities as a result of COVID-19.[cviii] For some LGBT people, the risks of homelessness, insecure employment, restricted access to healthcare and other inequalities will deepen as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

In terms of housing tenures, the available evidence suggests that the highest proportion of adults who identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or other in 2017 live in the private rented sector. In total, 3% of adults in social rented households identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or other in 2017, compared to 5% of adults in the private rented sector, 2% of adults in households owned with a mortgage, and 1% of adults in households that were owned outright.[cix] [cx]

Stakeholders have told us that people in same sex relationships are at significant risk of experiencing domestic abuse. We have already committed in the route map to developing and embedding a homelessness prevention pathway for people experiencing domestic abuse. The first set of recommendations from this work were published in December 2020, on improving the housing outcomes of women and children in the social housing sector who experience domestic abuse. As this pathway develops we will be moving on to consider how to respond to the needs of people in same sex relationships who experience domestic abuse, with the aim of preventing their homelessness.

As suggested by the evidence outlined above, it is clear that people within this protected characteristic face a range of inequalities, including within the housing sphere and are vulnerable to homelessness. As we take forward Housing to 2040, we will seek to ensure that the housing disadvantages this group faces are acknowledged, recognised and addressed.

The route map sets out specific actions we will take forward to do this which include but are not limited to:

  • Developing homelessness prevention legislation to ensure public bodies across Scotland have responsibilities for preventing homelessness.
  • Embedding homelessness prevention pathways for particular groups at risk of homelessness and rough sleeping,
  • Implement and embedding homelessness prevention pathways for:
    • Individuals released from prison sentences and remand
    • Young people leaving care
    • Young people
    • Victims of domestic abuse
    • Veterans
  • Bringing forward a new Housing Bill early in the next Parliament to strengthen tenants’ rights and improve the rights of victims of domestic abuse.

[v] An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) gives information on how energy efficient a building is and how it could be improved. Ratings are on a scale from A to G with A being the best.

[xx] Scarring is where reduced economic activity (as a result of e.g. reduced demand, business failures and cancelled/reduced business investment) and lower incomes have long-run impacts on the economy.

[xxi] The Youth Homelessness Prevention Pathway: Improving Care Leavers’ Housing Pathways was published in November 2019. The report was developed by a working group made up of members from homelessness and care experienced third sector organisations, local authorities and other public sector bodies and coordinated by the A Way Home Scotland Coalition. This report made recommendations as to what additional steps are required to support the full implementation of the policy and legislative frameworks that currently exist; and to support practice and culture shifts to ensure care experienced young people are prepared for and supported through transition from care. The report also stressed the primary importance of Continuing Care and Aftercare support as the most influential factor in facilitating smoother, better-supported transitions from care to more independent living and in reducing the risk of homelessness for care leavers. 

[xxv] Housing Exhibition  resent Voices Future Lives Add reference when published



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