27 Jun 2023

Homelessness and housing need set to rise as housing delivery slows to crawl

Three of Scotland’s leading housing organisations have issued a stark warning that Scotland faces increasing homelessness if urgent action is not taken to increase the number of affordable and social homes being built across the country.

Shelter Scotland, the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) Scotland and the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) issued the warning following today’s publication of the Scottish Government’s latest statistics on affordable house building.  Between 23rd March 2022 and 31st March 2023 there were 9,121 social housing completions against a target of 7,770.

However, starts on homes for social rent are down by 18 per cent (1,132 homes) while approvals are down by 15 per cent (896 homes).

The three housing organisations jointly commissioned an academic study before the last Scottish Parliament election in 2019 which demonstrated that 53,000 affordable homes - with 70 per cent for social rent – were required to meet existing levels of need and emerging demand across Scotland.

Following that research every party in the Scottish Parliament committed to meeting or exceeding that target. Today’s statistics show that the Scottish Government are not on track to meet that goal.

The statistics come only a few weeks after the Scottish Government published its Mid-term Financial Review that looks again of the viability of existing spending programmes including the £3.6billion Affordable Housing Supply Programme (AHSP).

In response to today’s statistics the three organisations will be following up with Ministers to seek assurances that affordable house building will be maintained and accelerated in light of increasing demand during the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

Alison Watson, Director of Shelter Scotland, said:

“While the last 12 months have shown some modest signs of improvement, the falling number of starts will undoubtedly impact the government’s ability to meet its targets for future delivery of social housing.

“You can’t end child poverty without ending child homelessness but unless more is done to deliver social housing, we ultimately need to plan for homelessness to get worse, a hugely worrying prospect given how broken and biased the system is already.

“Delivering more social homes remains the only way to meaningfully tackle the housing emergency. We must invest now in delivering these homes, we can't afford to do otherwise.”

Sally Thomas, CEO, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, said:

“Our social homes change lives – they lift people out of poverty, provide thriving communities and help us build a more socially just society. That’s because home is the basis for everything else, from our health, our job opportunities, and the childhoods we all deserve. However, these figures yet again make clear that we simply aren’t building them at the rate we need.

“Put simply, we need to go much further much faster. Missing our affordable supply targets has real world, long-term impacts on lives. That’s why we need to see concerted, urgent action taken to deliver affordable homes.”

Callum Chomczuk, national director of CIH Scotland said:

“Social landlords across Scotland are working to deliver the homes we need in increasingly challenging financial circumstances. While supporting tenants through the cost of living crisis, social landlords are also facing significantly increased costs across every area of business.

“Increasing the supply of social housing quite rightly needs to be prioritised to tackle homelessness, reduce poverty and inequality and support better health and wellbeing at every stage of life. If we are to deliver the social and affordable homes so desperately needed, the sector needs adequate funding and support from the Scottish Government.”