Opportunity/Challenge 9: Better realise the right to an adequate home that is affordable, accessible, of good quality, and meets individual need whilst ensuring that progress on tackling current inequality of housing outcome is addressed
What does the evidence tell us?
- There are a range of inequalities in relation to property ownership, with younger people, households with disabled members, minority ethnic people, and households headed by women all experiencing significantly lower rates of ownership. This creates inequality because housing is a key repository of wealth for many households.
- There are marked differences in relation to housing tenure. Looking at social rented households in 2019, 59% had a disabled member, and 47% were in the most deprived areas. Gypsy/Travellers are twice as likely to be (predominantly social) renters and more likely to live in overcrowded accommodation.
- Minority ethnic households are more likely to live in the private rented sector and on the whole are less likely to live in the social rented sector or in owner occupation than White Scottish/British households.
- There is inequality in terms of the adequacy of housing, private rented (52%) and Local Authority social housing (47%) both had quality (SHQS) failure rates above the national average of 43% in 2019 (according to the Scottish House Condition Survey). In 2019, around 22% of households with a disabled member do not live in a home that meets their needs.
- Public provision of Gypsy/Traveller configured accommodation has reduced in recent years (14% reduction in pitches from 2008-2018). Gypsy/Travellers are also more likely to have a limiting long-term health problem or disability (28% compared to 20%) despite a much younger age profile.
- Being in poverty increases the risk of homelessness, and single men, lone mothers, visible minority ethnic groups, Muslim adults, young people, and disabled adults are all at greater risk. Experience of domestic abuse is the most common reason why women present as being homeless, and women's inequality generally increases their risk factors.
- Young people are overrepresented in homelessness statistics, and homeless households are more likely to be single male. 49% of households assessed as homeless or threatened with homelessness in 2020-21 were single males, while 21% were single female households. Male single parents were 5% of the applications while female single parents accounted for 16% of applicant households.
What are we doing to address this?
As set out in Housing to 2040, we are progressing work to ensure the realisation of the right to adequate housing, including work in support of the Human Rights Bill. 
This frames the New Deal for Tenants and underpinning rented sector strategy which aims to improve fairness, quality and affordability across social and private rented homes. We are committed to delivering 110,000 affordable homes by 2032 of which at least 70% will be available for social rent and 10% will be in our remote, rural and island communities. Many of these homes will be delivered to the updated Housing for Varying Needs Standards, with the current review also feeding into the considerations for new Building Standards from 2025-26 – developing a Scottish Accessible Homes Standard which all new homes, regardless of tenure, must achieve. Investment of £12 million capital for 2023-24 provides support to Registered Social Landlords to provide adaptations for their older and disabled tenants to help them live independently in a home that meets their needs. In 2022-23, £2.75 million investment to kick start delivery of our Shared Policy Programme agreements for a new deal for tenants and Rented Sector Reform will, following consultation, offer measures to improve the quality, affordability and fairness on which homes are rented.
In 2022-23, we will provide over £120 million for the Scottish Welfare Fund and Discretionary Housing Payments to mitigate the UK Government's bedroom tax, among other welfare cuts, and help over 90,000 tenants sustain their tenancies. We are also investing up to £10 million to mitigate the benefit cap as much as we can within devolved powers which will support a further 4,000 families with approximately 13,000 children to sustain their tenancies.
Continued investment from the second tranche of £50 million transformation funding in our Ending Homelessness Together Fund will continue to support delivery of Rapid Rehousing, Housing First and other actions in our Ending Homelessness Together Action Plan which is expected to deliver a range of positive equality and human rights outcomes. To guide our policy and associated investment, we recently appointed someone with expertise on the housing and homelessness concerns of people from minority ethnic communities to the Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group.
We know the best way to end homelessness is to prevent it from happening in the first place and we are committed to developing and implementing pathways to prevent homelessness for those at high risk. The Scottish Government are now progressing actions to implement the recommendations from an expert working group to improve housing outcomes for women and children experiencing domestic abuse in the social rented sector. Some of the recommendations relate to how Ending Homelessness Together funding (or Equally Safe funding) should be directed to meet the specific needs of women and children experiencing domestic abuse, which includes financial support to leave a perpetrator and access to legal advice. Also, the 'Improving Care Leavers Housing Pathways' report was published on 12 November 2019 and sets out next steps to ensure corporate parents act on their legal and moral duties to prevent care leavers experiencing homelessness by fully implementing existing policy and legislative frameworks. The Youth Homelessness Prevention Pathway was published on 22 March 2021. The pathway recognises that youth homelessness is more than just a housing issue and calls for change across youth, welfare, health, justice, housing, homelessness, and the children and families' sectors and departments at both a national and local level. Both pathways recognise that younger people are more likely to make a homeless application than other groups of the population and are much more likely to have support needs relating to basic housing management and independent living.
The £20 million Gypsy/Traveller Accommodation Fund (2021-2026) is part of our shared commitment with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) to more and better Gypsy/Traveller accommodation. It will be focused, initially, on the development of demonstration projects to establish model sites, built to an Interim Site Design Guide, developed with Gypsy/Traveller input. We are working in partnership with members of Gypsy/Traveller communities and local authorities to develop a design guide for modern, accessible sites, to meet the needs of growing families, older and disabled people, including building to relevant standards in Housing for Varying Needs. The fund will support more Gypsy/Travellers to realise their right to an adequate home, in keeping with their cultural traditions.
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