The non-reporting of the Scottish Government’s commitment to affordable housing reflects the inability of our political journalists to highlight any good news coming out of Holyrood.

This was a response to my piece on affordable housing, from reader James McHale who has given me permission to post it separately to get more attention. He clearly knows a lot about this so I’m keen to see it shared.

The non-reporting of the Scottish Government’s commitment to affordable housing reflects the inability of our political journalists to highlight any good news coming out of Holyrood.

I am a Board member of a national Registered Social Landlord (RSL) and experience firsthand the difference in funding north and south of the border. The average Scottish Government grant for new house builds in our sector is c.£60,000 per unit (£70-£72k social rent; £44-£46k mid-market rent) compared to c.£20,000 in England. This is a solid grant regime recognising strategic and differing regeneration objectives across the Scottish affordable housing sector. This is really good news!

Over the next five years, our Group has planned to build around 1,200 mixed tenure homes in Scotland with an investment of over £1b therefore to build 50,000 new affordable homes over the next five years is a massive undertaking and financial commitment by the First Minister and her government. Yet we rarely, if ever, hear of the positive differences in the affordable housing policy trajectory between Westminster and Holyrood. Instead we get headlines such as “SNP under fire for failing to tackle housing crisis in Scotland” .

http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/snp-under-fire-failing-tackle-6415283

Another major policy difference between the Scottish and UK Governments is their emphasis on solving the housing shortage. In an age when many of those who are on housing waiting lists would be unable to secure a mortgage let alone save for a deposit, The Conservative’s emphasis is on home ownership. However, the SNP recognises the real nature of the crisis and wants to build more social housing through engagement and joint ventures with Local Authorities and well established housing developers to provide quality homes where people want to live. This is really good news!

The Tories hate social housing and RSLs (David Cameron allegedly said “Why don’t you **** off and die.”)and are in the process of undermining Housing Associations in England with Right to Buy and forcing RSLs to cut social rent by 1% per annum thereby reducing the income stream to provide a surplus that would be used to build new homes. There are other mitigating risks entirely due to the austerity regime with welfare reform that will have an impact on our cash-flow and especially on our social rented customer base e.g. the Benefit Cap, the Shared Accommodation Rate (due to arrive April 2019). This is bad news!

Instead of spending £Billions on the private rented sector invest the money in more affordable housing therefore slashing huge amounts of the rent. (Average 2 bdrm social rent in Edinburgh = £80.87/week ; Average 2 bdrm flat private rent in Edinburgh = £192.69/week). That’s how you slash housing benefit while providing quality homes and a solution to the housing shortage. This would be really good news!

http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Housing-Regeneration/HSfS/HRA2008-09
https://www.djalexander.co.uk/news/349/1000plus-a-month-the-new-average-cost-of-renting-in-edinburgh

In closing, thank you Prof for highlighting the upbeat news that the Scottish Government is leading the way in providing social and affordable homes in the UK.

N.B. The political views expressed are entirely personal and under no circumstance do I speak for any of my colleagues.

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9 thoughts on “The non-reporting of the Scottish Government’s commitment to affordable housing reflects the inability of our political journalists to highlight any good news coming out of Holyrood.

  1. Clydebuilt February 17, 2017 / 10:40 am

    Excellent article James. Thanks to our Main Stream Media I knew nothing about this subject.as you say it is very good news for people needing homes in Scotland. Whilst we get every whine and bleet from Kezia Dugdale about SNP imposed cuts. With reference to Scotland’s political journalists. George Ponsonby asked of them, “Who are these people”. Their brief certainly isn’t to inform people.

    Have to ask- are the Scottish Government good at getting their message out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Contrary February 17, 2017 / 11:42 am

      No, I don’t think so, to find out what the Scottish government is doing I look at its website, which to me means you have to actively seek out the information. But the Scot government I think does what it can, SNP tweets, and being nice to the media, and the government website is kept very up to date, would be nice to have balanced opinions on what they say though.

      Good article! Really gives a hopeful outlook.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Alex Beveridge February 17, 2017 / 10:44 am

    Many thanks, John and James. It’s only through articles such as these that those of us who are out canvassing can debunk the lies, and omissions, of the B.B.C, and their pals,the M.S.M. Over the last few years, at least on the doorstep, it’s become more apparent that at least some of the electorate are no longer prepared to accept their previous sources of news as accurate, and are willing to contemplate alternative views.
    So please, keep up the good work, because it’s only through the information that we get from you, and of course other like-minded sites, that help us to combat the vicious propaganda that is about to engulf us, in even greater intensity, once it becomes apparent that we are determined to become an independent country, once again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • James McHale February 17, 2017 / 8:44 pm

      Thank you for your comments and for the opportunity to share some thoughts on why we don’t promote Scotland’s affordable housing policy

      For such an important piece of infrastructure, I’m sometimes disappointed at the level of interest in the social/affordable housing sector when I attend various hustings etc. It’s a pity because Scotland’s affordable housing policy assuredly has a positive outlook.

      The answer may be we’re conditioned to think of “social housing” as pejorative and associate the sprawling conurbations of post-war Britain and all their social ailments with today’s provision. It’s hardly surprising as the glaring inhumanity from these past projects are difficult to ignore, especially when put under the edited microscope of the T.V. documentary. Our research has shown the most vehement opponents of social rented housing are people who know the least about the sector in addition to the benefits regime. (You can listen to them on the Kaye Adams Phone-In).

      Hard lessons have been learned and almost all new affordable housing is provided by Housing Associations with partnerships previously mentioned. So what does the new development look like? (I’ve used this site only because I remember the post code)

      https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@55.9341898,-3.2355048,3a,75y,329.78h,87.41t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sRpLEOK-Ks-qCrJWg1scC1g!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!6m1!1e1

      Using the link take a look around one of our “schemes” where we own 40 units built 2006/7 (the rest are privately owned. e.g.2 bdrm house = c.£250,000) and see if you can spot the social rented houses. Developments like this are not the exception but the rule. Currently we have 19 sites under construction and/or secured for building and a further 7 proposed.

      A huge amount of work continues to be done replacing old housing as well as adding to the supply but imagine the 50,000 additional quality affordable homes in great places to live built in the next 5 years. Surely this is subject to be enthused about.

      (Apologies for being a bit long winded. At my age this is excitement for me!)

      Like

  3. Contrary February 20, 2017 / 8:35 pm

    I believe it is so important to be building affordable homes and social housing. I am currently in rented social housing, so am perhaps slightly more aware of what is being done, but it is good to see the figures. The stigma attached to renting and social housing is a strange one, born of the Thatcher years perhaps, the era where they sold off all the council houses and didn’t replace them. The difference in attitudes to those on the continent where long-term renting is the norm is stark as well. Really got me out of a bind when I managed to get a housing association flat, so I am eternally grateful, and also that it was a new-build and energy efficient made a huge difference.

    I think more should be done though – I believe that there should be NO private renting allowed. Or at least any private renting should be managed by housing associations on a not-for-profit basis. Not sure that that would be a popular policy for any political party to adopt though.

    Like

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