Development of new affordable housing in Scotland is at an exciting but challenging time, and no more so than for community controlled housing associations, many of which fell out of development in recent years as grant rates tumbled.
Big changes at the national level
The Scottish Government’s supply target of 50,000 social and affordable homes from 2016/17 to 2020/21 is a two-thirds increase on the previous 30,000 target, which was slightly exceeded. Each of Scotland’s local authorities will have its own targets for the five-year period. Many councils will divide up their overall programme between housing association and the council itself if it is a direct developer of new homes.
Along with the big increase in the overall programme, April 2016 saw a significant increase in benchmark subsidy rates, following the recommendations of the Scottish Government’s Subsidy Working Group in 2015. GWSF played a highly proactive part in providing supporting arguments which led to the Group’s recommendations. Details of benchmark subsidy rates can be seen here.
Challenges for community controlled housing associations
CCHAs keen to develop, or continue developing, need the land, the right infrastructure, and a local authority which is keen to see them play an active part in the local development programme.
The council itself (in areas where it is developing), and larger regional and national housing associations are also likely to be developing. GWSF believes it is crucial to see a balanced programme of providers: CCHAs may be providing (on average) smaller schemes without some of the economies of scale others can bring, but they develop in the context of an intimate understanding of the wider regeneration needs of their communities.
So as at summer 2016, many CCHAs across the GWSF area are in ongoing dialogue with their local authority partners about what contribution they can make to the programme over the next five years, and indeed over bringing forward specific sites.
GWSF’s November 2016 news release expressing concern at some CCHAs being squeezed out of development by larger associations can be seen here: http://gwsf.org.uk/wp-admin/post.php?post=1729&action=edit
Development in Glasgow
GWSF’s response to Glasgow’s draft SHIP 2017-22 can be seen here – gcc-ship-nov-2016-gwsf-response