As a major provider of housing services in the North-east, Grampian Housing Association welcomes the SNP’s general election call for 100,000 new affordable homes a year in the UK but we believe that it’s far too modest. Scotland alone needs at least 10,000 new affordable homes for rent annually.
Here in the North-east, in the 25-year period to 2037, the population is projected to rise to 588,601 – an increase of 108,091 – with one of the greatest growths being in lone pensioner households.
The Scottish Government has put its faith in an integrated approach to health and social care to cope with this demographic change but needs to remember that affordable housing is one of its fundamental building blocks.
Industry and commerce, the NHS and other public-sector services, third-sector care agencies and many more have all said that affordable housing is a major concern. How can you attract and keep vital staff if there is nowhere they can afford to live? This affects other parts of Scotland too.
Studies have shown that government investment in social housing yields more than any other kind of capital infrastructure. It gives people more disposable income, and this is spent locally.
It helps keep people out of hospital. It leads to more jobs, a broader economic impact, and indirect gains for communities like improved health and educational attainment.
For all those reasons, we need more affordable housing, not what we have at the moment. Although Westminster constrains the overall budget for affordable housing through the Barnett Formula, the Scottish Government has control over priorities within Scotland.
I urge those elected in Scotland, regardless of party, to make the UK more ambitious when it comes to building new affordable homes for rent and for Scotland and the North-east, to match housing solutions to the needs of communities and the national economy.
Grampian Housing Association