13 Aug 2021

Investing in our housing sector can help prevent a rise in homelessness, create jobs and build sustainable communities

CIH Scotland has responded to a call for evidence from the Finance and Public Administration Committee, seeking views on Scotland’s public finances in 2022-23.

In its response, CIH Scotland highlighted the importance of continuing to invest in high-quality, affordable homes that meet people’s needs in order to support physical and mental wellbeing, the creation of sustainable communities and support the economic recovery from the pandemic.

As policies such as the furlough scheme, the uplift in Universal Credit and restrictions on evictions end, there is a risk that thousands of people could face homelessness if arears in the social and private rented sector increase. Whilst temporary initiatives to reduce the threat of a significant increase in homelessness during the pandemic were effective, it is crucial that the Scottish Government adopts a longer-term strategy, including financial support, to prevent homelessness as Covid-19 restrictions are eased and UK Government support is withdrawn.   

Ashley Campbell, policy and practice manager at CIH Scotland said:

“We welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to deliver 100,000 social and affordable homes by 2032. However, we are concerned that the £3.3billion investment pledged over the next five years will not be enough to provide high quality homes while keeping rents affordable. We urge the Government to take additional costs into account when revising subsidy levels, otherwise we may risk pushing more people into poverty or homelessness.

“While the number of homeless presentations has remained fairly stable throughout the pandemic, we are concerned that numbers could increase significantly if support is withdrawn. A recent survey we carried out highlighted that the pandemic affected the provision of temporary accommodation for 90 percent of local authorities, with comments including issues with longer stays in temporary accommodation and some having to make use of accommodation that would usually be deemed unsuitable. Local authorities need longer term funding to recover from the impact of the pandemic and achieve the ambitions set out in Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans.

“Despite these challenges, planning our recovery from the pandemic also presents an opportunity to create skilled jobs across Scotland as we strive to become a net-zero nation by 2045. With decisive action and funding from the Scottish Government we can transform our homes, reduce emissions and support 24,000 jobs each year up to 2030. We can and must achieve a fair and green recovery from covid-19.”