Building affordable housing should be the “cornerstone of Scotland’s recovery”, Finance Secretary Kate Forbes has been told ahead of Thursday’s Budget.
A joint letter from 32 housing organisations, charities and support groups has urged Ms Forbes to prioritise affordable homes and social housing when she announces the Scottish Government’s budget plans for the coming financial year.
The letter argues that at least 53,000 new affordable homes, including at least 37,100 for social rent, are needed by 2026.
In the letter to Ms Forbes, the housing representatives said: “The Scottish Government has shown leadership, having committed to build a record number of social homes over the current parliament, but the need for affordable and social housing continues to rise.
“Homelessness and a lack of housing is not inevitable, building more social and affordable housing will help to meet the demand for housing, from those that need it most.
“We urge you to use the Scottish Budget as the opportunity to commit to reducing housing need by making social and affordable homes the cornerstone of Scotland’s recovery – rebuilding Scotland’s economy, invigorating our communities, creating more jobs, helping meet climate and child poverty targets, and building a brighter future.”
Shelter Scotland director Alison Watson, a signatory to the letter said: “In this week’s Budget, we’re looking for a clear statement of intent from the Scottish Government.
“The last year has shown us that providing quality housing is a matter of life and death.
“We can only end the housing emergency if we build enough good quality homes for everyone who needs them.”
Sally Thomas, chief executive of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, said: “A commitment from the Scottish Government to delivering the 53,000 affordable homes that Scotland needs during the next parliament is critical to ensuring the country’s social and economic recovery from Covid-19.
“Last week’s Social Renewal Advisory Board Report made recommendations for a fairer and more equal post-pandemic Scotland, including making sure everyone has access to a safe, warm, affordable home, and the government can realise this by agreeing to another ambitious housing programme.”
Callum Chomczuk, director of the Chartered Institute of Housing Scotland, said: “One of the only positives to come from this crisis has been the ability of our political leaders to think differently and take radical action.
“We need to use our experience to build an even more ambitious plan for affordable housing at the heart of Scotland’s economic and social recovery.
“This week’s budget isn’t the time for timidity. We can choose to end homelessness, to end poverty in this country, and give everyone the right foundation for a safe, secure life. This all starts by funding the 53,000 affordable homes the country needs.”
Frazer Scott, chief executive officer of Energy Action Scotland, said: “Over 25% of households in Scotland live in fuel poverty which kills more than 2500 people in Scotland every winter. Surely we are better than this?
“A fair Scotland needs an ambitious programme of investment to equip people with the decent homes they need and deserve.
“New, affordable homes will save lives.”
Housing minister Kevin Stewart said: “We have already delivered nearly 97,000 affordable homes since 2007 and are determined to build on that achievement.
“We recognise the importance of delivering more affordable homes and that’s why in November we increased the interim funding for the Affordable Housing Supply Programme in 2021-22 from £300 million to £500 million ahead of this week’s Budget.
“This interim commitment and our plans for £2.8 billion capital investment in affordable housing as laid out in our draft Infrastructure Investment Plan show our commitment to continuing to deliver affordable, warm, secure homes for the people of Scotland.”