The SFHA’s manifesto, Housing Matters, headlined five key asks, calling on the next Scottish Government to:
- Fund the building of 12,000 affordable homes a year,
- maintain the increased Housing Association Grant, ‘HAG’,
- tackle fuel poverty,
- protect social tenants’ and social landlords’ income using new welfare powers coming to Scotland under the Scotland Act 2016,
- ensure that housing stays at the heart of health and social care reform.
So what have the parties’ come up with? The SFHA has produced detailed analysis for its members, but here is a summary of how far the parties’ manifestos have met SFHA’s asks:
The SNP has responded to SFHA’s asks by promising to build 50,000 affordable homes over the next parliament. It has promised £3 billion of funding towards this target. The SNP has pledged £103 million for energy efficiency measures to combat fuel poverty. It will use the Scotland Act powers to abolish the ‘bedroom tax’, uprate Carers’ Allowance to equal Jobseekers’ Allowance, reform Universal Credit, and restore Housing Benefit for those aged between 18-21. In respect to health and social care reform, the SNP will consider extending the use of HAG for the purpose of providing housing for older and disabled people.
Scottish Labour has pledged to build 60,000 affordable homes over the next parliament, with 45,000 of these for social rent. There was no specific mention of HAG. Labour will tackle fuel poverty by implementing a Warm Homes Act in the next Parliament. It intends to use the Scotland Act powers to abolish the ‘bedroom tax’, uprate Carers’ Allowance to equal Jobseekers’ Allowance, restore Housing Benefit for people aged 18-21 and reform Universal Credit. Labour commits to invest in health and social care but does not specifically identify a role for housing.
The Scottish Conservatives pledged to build 100,000 new homes over the next parliament, with 50,000 of these to be affordable. The Scottish Conservatives have promised to maintain the recently increased HAG. To tackle fuel poverty, the Conservatives have mandated that all properties must achieve an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) of C or above by 2030. They will use the Scotland Act powers to give claimants choices over Universal Credit. Lastly, they will work with housing associations to tackle delayed discharge regarding health and social care.
The Scottish Liberal Democrats have promised to build 50,000 homes over the next parliament, with 40,000 of these for social rent. The manifesto does not touch on HAG, but it does specify that they will ensure that social housing must incorporate renewable energy systems as a condition of public funding. The Liberal Democrats propose to tackle fuel poverty by making sure that all newly-let properties achieve EPC rating C. They intend to use the Scotland Act powers to abolish the ‘bedroom tax’ and restore Housing Benefit for those aged 18-25. Lastly, Liberal Democrats will allow GPs to prescribe home insulation and work to make health and social care integration a success.
The Scottish Greens have committed to build 12,000 affordable homes a year over the next parliament. The manifesto does not mention HAG. They have pledged to combat fuel poverty by ensuring that all homes must achieve an EPC rating of C by 2025. The Scottish Greens will use the Scotland Act powers to prevent information sharing with the DWP that would lead to a benefit sanction and they also intend to strengthen the Scottish Welfare Fund. The Greens have expressed a need in the manifesto to link up health and social care integration between social, primary and acute care.
The outcome of the Scottish Parliament election will determine which party (or parties) will gain the mandate to carry out their manifesto(s). The SFHA is committed to work with the new Scottish Parliament to create coherent housing policy in the interests of our member housing associations and their tenants.