The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) has responded to the Scottish Government’s A New Deal for Tenants – Draft Strategy consultation and said that, to deliver the strategy’s ambition of giving everyone access to an affordable tenancy, the government must ensure social landlords can keep building the homes that are needed: or risk pushing people into other sectors, where rents are higher.
SFHA said, while it shared the government’s vision that everyone should have access to a secure, good quality affordable home, housing associations are facing increasing development costs and having to meet new targets, such as net zero.
In order to realise this vision, SFHA said the government must increase investment in line with these rising cost pressures.
Sally Thomas, SFHA Chief Executive, said: “We welcome this new strategy, which recognises the importance of the rented sector. However, our members are facing multiple cost pressures: not only are development costs rising but they are also having to meet new government standards, including net zero.
“If investment doesn’t rise to meet increasing costs, social landlords could face a position where they can’t afford to develop. If we can’t deliver the number of social rented sector homes that are needed, then more people will be pushed into the private rented sector which has higher rents – or even risk becoming homeless.
Ms Thomas continued: “We support the strategy’s position that rent controls should only apply to the private sector, where rents are typically double the level charged by housing associations. Our members work with tenants every day and involve them in important decisions affecting their housing association or co-operative, including during the rent-setting process.”
Ms Thomas concluded: “We welcome the strategy’s proposal for a universal definition of affordability to be created. It is vital that a shared definition includes whole house costs.
“Rental income helps fund essential repairs and maintenance as well as development, while many housing associations also provide services like welfare and energy advice.
“These frontline services are needed to ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing of tenants, and it is critical that they can continue.
“SFHA, and our members, look forward to working with the Scottish Government as the strategy’s work continues. We must continue working together so that all tenants, whether in the social or private sector, can live in a safe, warm, secure, affordable home.”