Scottish Housing Day a chance to highlight positive contribution housing makes to individuals and communities
In this new opinion piece, CIH Scotland's national director Callum Chomczuk looks at the contribution that housing makes to improving health, addressing poverty, and building communities as we celebrate the third annual Scottish Housing Day.
Scottish Housing Day is about celebrating the contribution that housing makes to improving health outcomes, addressing poverty and building communities and communicating to the public, tenants, homeowners and those looking for a home what housing options exist for them.
On this, the third annual Scottish Housing Day, we are focusing on how the aspiration of young people to have a home of their own is being failed by the housing market.
Encouragingly, the public are positive about the importance of housing in Scotland. According to a You Gov poll commissioned for Scottish Housing Day, 46% of Scots believe the government has a responsibility to ensure everyone has a home to live in, and among 18-24 year olds, the survey shows the clear priorities among younger Scots are providing help buying their first home and limiting rent rises in the private rented sector.
Indeed, with young people expected to save large deposits in order to buy a home and private renting seeing real spikes across some rental markets, including Edinburgh where the average price for renting a one bedroom home has now reached £740, it is no surprise to see young people call for action across these areas.
However, the poll also shows that there is a lack of understanding from the public about how social housing can provide a high quality affordable home. The results show that only 13% of Scots think that social housing provides the best choice for a high quality home.
All tenures of housing have seen remarkable improvements in housing quality in recent years but nowhere has this been more pronounced than in the social rented sector. Statistics from the Scottish House Condition Survey show that a higher proportion of homes in the social sector (62%) than the private sector (53%) are meeting the Scottish Housing Quality Standard.
However, as a sector we have collectively failed to communicate to the wider public that social housing can offer options for people at different stages of their lives. Whether it is an older couple looking to downsize, a family seeking a home in a new community or a young professional starting out on their career, social housing can provide an affordable high quality home for everyone.
To ensure everyone has genuine housing options we need to increase the supply of affordable housing. Over the last few years we have seen an end to the right to buy in Scotland and a £3bn investment programme from the Scottish Government to construct 50,000 affordable homes. This is a start but we still have 160,000 people on housing waiting lists. As such we need to see politicians from all parties commit to maintain this level of funding for housing over the next two or three parliamentary terms if we are truly committed to ending the housing crisis.
We need to challenge assumptions that it costs too much to meet social objectives, move the debate away from capping and cutting and instead focus on how appropriate public investment will address socio-economic inequality and in turn save the state money.
As such, for this Scottish Housing Day, housing organisations across the country are doing fantastic things to engage with tenants and decision makers. Not only communicating what housing options are available to young people but also building cross party support to ensure housing remains a policy priority. For example:
- In Edinburgh, politicians from all parties are coming together to debate the future for young people’s housing;
- In Falkirk, Link Group is holding a drop in session where the public can learn more about how to rent or buy a home;
- In Lochaber, the DWP, Highland Council and the local housing association are holding an open day for tenants;
- In Perth, CATH Day Centre will be hosting a quiz evening within the Day Centre open to all service users and service users from local community agencies.
- In Aberdeen, Langstane Housing Association will mock up traditional housing cubicles used in the 1970s to show tenants the improvements made in social housing stock.
Wherever you are across the country you will find housing organisations hosting an event or activity that demonstrates the purpose and value of their role. Scottish Housing Day is the day to make the case for housing to be at the heart of public policy. We all know the contribution a stable secure home can make to someone’s health and wellbeing. It is vital that we build recognition and regard about how housing has a positive and lasting impact on people’s lives.
Scottish Housing Day is taking place on Wednesday September 19th, 2018.