IN its response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on ‘Housing Adaptations: Options for Change and Improvement’, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) has today urged the Scottish Government and the independent Adaptations Working Group to empower local authorities to deliver adaptations on a personalised basis, and steer away from the health and social care model for at least until such time when a robust and effective housing involvement is properly embedded within Health and Social Care Partnerships.
David Ogilvie, SFHA policy manager, said:
“In our response, we have asked the Scottish Government to make sure that whatever system of funding and delivery is chosen actually reflects the everyday realities of service users and service providers across different parts of Scotland, rather than insisting upon adaptations delivery being made part of the health and social care system.
“Over time, it may well be that health and social care partnerships develop the capability to deliver adaptations on a fair and equitable, tenure-neutral basis, but in the short term we have serious doubts about whether this is actually going to be viable.
“Simply put, we believe that until a robust and effective housing involvement has been established in Health and Social Care Partnerships, it would simply be too risky for that approach to be adopted. At a time when every penny counts, we simply cannot afford to risk seeing money ‘disappear’ from adaptations budgets, as could potentially be the case here, and see them swallowed up by other health and social care priorities.
“That’s why, for us and for our sector, we are saying that a hybrid model of delivery, with funding located under the auspices of the local authority but dispensed to service users on an individual, personalised basis would be the best way forward in the short to medium term. In our view, local housing authorities will have a far better understanding of housing needs within their area, including the need for adapted and specialist properties, than Health and Social Care Partnerships currently do. So it stands to reason they would be a more natural fit as partners for Scotland’s housing associations and co-operatives in delivering adaptations to tenants that need them.”
However, SFHA also pointed out that constraints upon funding for new housing supply mean that in years to come there will be an increasing need to look at adapting existing housing stock.
David Ogilvie continued:
“We believe that committing to truly preventative spending requires the Scottish Government to invest more in new build stock which meets the lifetime needs of all Scotland’s citizens. This needs to happen across all tenures, including the housing association and co-operative sector, which can provide low cost home ownership, extra care and other forms of specialist housing for affordable rent.”
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1)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.
2)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 per cent of the country’s affordable rented housing stock, over a quarter of a million homes across Scotland.