The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) set out the case for the Scottish Government to use its new borrowing powers to invest in badly-needed new affordable housing, as the Scottish Parliament debated the Scotland Bill today (Wednesday 18th April 2012). (1)
Mary Taylor, Chief Executive of the SFHA, said: “Helping to fund new affordable homes is a safe and secure use of public funds, which will provide a strong economic and social return, as well as tackling the pressing shortage of affordable homes that exists across Scotland. However, the budget for new affordable rented homes has been successively cut in recent years. (2)
“Housing associations and co-operatives have already proved they can use government investment, added to private finance they raise themselves, to build large numbers of high quality, energy efficient housing, that will serve our communities well.
“That’s why we have briefed MSPs on the advantages of using new borrowing powers, set to be gained through the Scotland Bill, to build quality affordable rented homes in Scotland.
“Availability of land is a key issue and new powers in the Bill over taxation on land transactions also have the potential to increase land available for affordable housing developments.”
Dr Taylor continued: “There are powerful arguments for investment in housing, in terms of the beneficial effect on the economy, job creation and apprenticeships, as well as vital social benefits that improved living conditions bring – whether in education, health, or tackling fuel poverty.
“Underlying all that is the huge need for affordable housing, with 335,000 households on housing association and co-operative housing waiting lists in Scotland.
“We urge MSPs and the Scottish Government to bear these arguments in mind when deciding what to use the powers for.”
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1) SFHA briefing issued ahead of today’s Scottish Parliament debate in the Scotland Bill is available here http://www.sfha.co.uk/component/option,com_docman/Itemid,37/gid,2129/task,doc_download/
2) The overall amount of funding available for new investment in housing, according to the 2012-15 Draft Scottish Budget, was set to be cut by 30% in 2012-13, and by nearly 50% in total the first two years of the programme. In the final Budget these cuts have been partially overturned, by an average 12%.
3) The SFHA was established in 1975 and has around 170 members providing affordable housing and wider community services in Scotland, as well as a further 200 commercial members. The SFHA is owned by its membership and exists to support the work of housing associations and co-operatives in Scotland by providing services, advice and good practice guidance.
4) The SFHA is the voice of the principal builders and managers of new affordable housing for rent in Scotland. Housing Associations own and manage around 40% of the country’s affordable rented housing stock, over a quarter of a million homes across Scotland.
5) Housing associations and co-operatives are not-for-profit bodies regulated by the Scottish Housing Regulator.