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Scottish Government under pressure ahead of Budget

Campaigners call for £700mn for social housing to meet First Minister’s ‘defining mission’ to tackle child poverty.
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The First Minister has been warned his ‘defining mission’ to tackle poverty is at risk as figures released today show the number of social homes being started and completed has dropped dramatically.

The total number of social homes started for the 12 months to end September 2023 has decreased by 41% (2,243 homes) on the 5,535 social sector homes started in the 12 months to end September 2022. For the period June to September 2023, the number of social homes completed was 1,555, a 27% drop compared to the same period last year.

In an open letter to Humza Yousaf, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) and the Poverty Alliance, alongside major social justice organisations, outline evidence that building social homes is a key part of lowering child poverty rates. They call on the Scottish Government to address the £700mn that has been eroded from the Affordable Housing Supply Programme (AHSP) due to inflation, as part of next week’s Scottish budget.

This comes as official Scottish Government statistics show that approvals for new-build affordable homes had continued to decline from the previous year despite almost quarter-of-a-million people being on a waiting list for social housing. The number of approvals under the Affordable Housing Supply Programme has declined by 14% in the 12 months to end September 2023.

A recent Freedom of Information request found that the Scottish Government’s own risk register for the Affordable Housing Supply Programme showed substantial concerns about the ability to deliver the government’s target of 110,000 affordable homes by 2032, 70% of which to be social rents.

Sally Thomas, SFHA CEO, said: “Delivering the social homes we need is central to the Scottish Government’s guiding mission of ending the injustice of poverty.

“We know that up to 20,000 children across Scotland are kept out of poverty because of social housing, but with a further 10,000 children stuck in the insecurity of temporary accommodation and the devastating effects that has on their wellbeing and life chances, it is more than  urgent that the Scottish Government begins to address the £700 million funding gap in the Affordable Housing Supply Programme.

“The Scottish Government’s current target of delivering 110,000 affordable homes by 2032 is not just stalling, but is in reverse. Failing to increase the Affordable Housing Supply Programme will not only see this target become an impossible dream, but it will plunge households across the country further into poverty.”

The calls for a £700mn increase to the AHSP were echoed by the Poverty Alliance who said that this month’s budget represented an opportunity for the Scottish Government to increase its investment in social housing and lift thousands of children out of poverty.

Peter Kelly, Director of The Poverty Alliance, said: “Having a safe, secure, warm home is one of our most basic needs. It lays the foundation for many other human needs to be met. But Scotland is facing a housing emergency.

“If urgent action isn’t taken, it will make it much more difficult for Scotland to meet its child poverty targets, and to give people the freedom and stability they need to build a life beyond the injustice of poverty.

“The Scottish Government can invest in a fairer future, and fund the social homes that people so desperately need.”

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