Building pressure: access to housing in Scotland in 2009
By: Shelter Scotland Published: July 2009
This report seeks to describe some of the symptoms of the current crisis in affordable housing, in order to support the case for the 2010-11 budget to be protected and enhanced, so that the situation can be improved.
- Building pressure: access to housing in Scotland in 2009 (PDF 138.8 KB)
Scotland needs more affordable homes. After thirty years or more where the building of affordable homes has lagged behind need, there are increasing signs of pressure in the Scottish housing market. That pressure is building just at the time when Scotland is due to meet its internationally-acclaimed commitment on homelessness.
- Scotland has the most ambitious homelessness commitment in the world. Good progress is being made towards the pledge to equalise homelessness rights. By 2012, all homeless people will be eligible for a permanent home. Scotland is more than four-fifths of the way there. But the pace of progress needs to be sustained.
- There are 142,000 households on council house waiting lists: enough to form a queue from Glasgow to Edinburgh and back again. House waiting lists have risen by 15 per cent since 2000.
- There are fewer social homes for rent than at any time since 1959. Most of that decline has been a result of Right to Buy. Since 1998 alone, 135,000 homes have been sold through Right to Buy.
- The number of lets of social housing has been declining as well as the total number of homes. In 2001, there were 3.9 people on council waiting lists for every let coming up. By 2008 this had risen to 6.6. This is a bit like saying it would take well over six years to house everyone on waiting lists, even if lists were completely closed to new entrants.
- Adding councils and housing associations together, the total number of new lets of social housing has fallen eight per cent since 2004-05.
- By 2008, despite house price inflation being checked, it was still 16 per cent harder for a first time buyer to buy a home than it was in 2001.
- The number of people stuck in temporary accommodation, like hostels, bed and breakfast hotels and short-term lets, has soared by 135 per cent between 2001 and 2008. This is mainly because of logjams in the provision of permanent housing to move on to. There are almost enough people in temporary accommodation to fill Tynecastle Stadium in Edinburgh. This includes 7,000 children.
- The number of lets of council homes going to homeless people has increased by 15 per cent since 2001. However, these lets now take up a much larger proportion of all council lets: two in every five by 2007-08. Although homelessness demand has risen a bit, this is not nearly as significant a factor as the fall in lets. It is the fall in the overall number of lets which lies behind the rising shares of lets being taken by homeless people.
- Taking into account lets to housing associations as well, three in every ten lets go to a homeless household.
- Over 3,500 households lost their homes in 2007-08 as a result of legal action by social landlords.
Public policy has not ignored these signs of pressure. New initiatives to build homes, increase the flow of lets and prevent homelessness are welcome. But a lot of that good work will be undercut if investment in housing is not protected and enhanced.
Read more about each of these issues in the full report.