Housing to 2040 Strategic Board minutes: February 2024

Minutes from meeting of the group on 08/02/2024

Attendees and apologies

  • Paul McLennan, MSP and Minister for Housing (Co-Chair)
  • Councillor Maureen Chalmers, COSLA Spokesperson for Community Wellbeing (Co-Chair)
  • Patrick Harvie, MSP and Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants’ Rights
  • Michael Cameron, Chief Executive, Scottish Housing Regulator
  • Sally Thomas, Chief Executive, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations 
  • John Mills, Co-Chair, ALACHO
  • Jane Wood, Chief Executive, Homes for Scotland
  • Colin Stewart, Chair, North of Scotland Regional Network 
  • Callum Chomczuk, National Director (Scotland), Chartered Institute of Housing
  • Chris Birt, Associate Director for Scotland, Joseph Rowntree Foundation


  • John Blackwood, Chief Executive, Scottish Association of Landlords 
  • Sean Neill, Director Local Government, Housing and Planning, Scottish Government (SG)

Also in attendance

  • Laura Dougan, Housing to 2040 Strategy Lead, SG
  • Stephen O’Connor, Housing to 2040 Strategy Team, SG
  • Shaun Cassidy, Housing Standards Team, SG
  • Alice Hall, Deputy Director Better Homes, SG
  • Lauren McNamara, Project Director, AHSP, SG
  • Adam Krawczyk, Head of Housing, Homelessness & Regeneration Analysis, SG
  • Mike Callaghan, COSLA

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

Mr McLennan (Co-Chair) welcomed members to this bespoke workshop session of the Housing to 2040 Strategic Board. Members had agreed at the last meeting of the Board (25 October 2023) to come together early in 2024 to have a session on strategic planning and on identifying key priorities and actions.

Mr McLennan noted that since the last meeting, the Scottish Government had published its draft Budget for 2024-25, which required some very difficult decisions as the UK Government had not inflation-proofed their Capital Budget, resulting in nearly a 10% real terms fall in our UK capital funding over the medium term between 2023-24 and 2027-28. He noted however that the Deputy First Minister was clear in Parliament that housing would be the key priority should additional capital become available.

He emphasised that the Board was a critical part of the governance needed to drive the Housing to 2040 (H2040) strategy forward in the face of a range of challenges and that the workshop was an opportunity to confirm its partnership approach and have a frank discussion to collectively identify key priorities to maintain the course set out in Housing to 2040.

Activity 1: insights on the housing sector

Mr McLennan thanked members for sending submissions in advance of the workshop to outline their key observations of the housing sector, and noted that a collated version of the submissions was shared with members in advance of today’s meeting. He noted that responses had highlighted the range of challenges currently faced by the sector, with reference in particular to the draft budget and the challenges of increasing costs. He also noted however that Housing to 2040 sets a longer-term course over the next 16 years.

Councillor Chalmers noted there were significant challenges to navigate, including at a local level. She emphasised however the importance of working together in partnership to meet the challenges being faced.

Mr Harvie stressed that the difficult budget decisions have been forced upon the Scottish Government but that the reality of taking a long term approach is there will always be the need to weather bad times as well as good. It was important to come together and work through issues that arise.

Mr McLennan invited members to offer their thoughts on the current context of the housing sector reflecting on the material submitted ahead of the meeting, drawing out key themes or areas of divergence in perspectives. 

Members agreed with the need to be honest, open and constructive in challenging the way forward but expressed concern regarding the proposals in the draft budget coming on top of an already challenging environment for the housing sector. 

Members also highlighted that, while H2040 remained relevant as a long-term strategy, the operating environment had changed materially since its publication in March 2021. There was a request of Government to set clear priorities to support the sector to work through the next 2-3 years, and that increasing housing supply should be the core short-term priority.

Members also requested that the Board itself needed appropriate levels of information, data and resources by which to assess delivery progress and provide input, advice and support.

Mr McLennan thanked members for the honest and frank exchange of views which would be useful to feed into the next session where the group, as part of its oversight role, could plot a path to developing concrete suggestions for action that could be taken in that current context.

Activity 2: advice on delivery and Activity 3: areas of focus

Laura invited members to break into two smaller groups, supported by SG officials, as facilitators and scribes, to consider the material provided for and discussed on Activity 1 and develop a short list of “steers” for actions/recommendations which reflect the group’s views on what should be the priority areas of focus for the sector.

Key messages from the Board included a steer that a central focus should be maximising confidence in the housing sector. This requires leadership on prioritisation from Scottish Government, with subsequent support from the Board, and work to give greater reassurance on long-term budgets and progressing work on diverse financing options.

The Board also advised continuing to focus on building homes but increasing efforts on acquisitions as a short-term measure to address the current acute pressures. This requires work on securing finance and addressing staffing challenges in local authorities.

Steers identified from the Groups included:

Keep Building – identify alternative funding models, review planning issues, better understanding of demand & supply issues, 
Buy more – more acquisitions, reduce empty homes, tackle vacant and derelict land, understand interface between supply and other Housing to 2040 challenges.
Better evaluation and communication of outcomes - Sector driven re-evaluation of timelines and priorities within Housing to 2040 aims. Track and share information/evidence of outcomes against Housing to 2040 delivery plan .
Better understanding of impact of budget and consider multi-year budgeting to build confidence in focusing delivery – allow sector and investors to plan and engage better to secure finance opportunities

Closing remarks

Mr McLennan thanked members for their valuable input to the session and noted that Ministers and officials would take the feedback away and consider. He confirmed also that the feedback from the workshop would be used to inform planning within SG. He noted that areas identified for exploring further included:

  • the priority areas identified by members
  • prioritising what is required to get through the challenges in the next 2/3 years
  • action to improve confidence levels within the sector to invest and grow
  • action to identify additional channels of finance and to secure budget continuity and stability
  • improving the sharing of data and information


  • Ministers and officials to consider outputs from the workshop and report on next steps to the next meeting of the Board.

Next meeting


  • Officials to liaise with members on arrangements to hold one or two meetings prior to summer recess.
Back to top