Together against poverty

(Pictured: New Gorbals Housing Association Laurieston development in Glasgow)

2019 is an important year for the Tenants Information Service (TIS) as we celebrate our 30th anniversary.

TIS lead in the development of innovative tenant participation and scrutiny practice in Scotland. As a National Membership Organisation, with over 200 tenants and housing organisation members, we are committed to influencing change and strive for an active, inclusive, and just Scotland, with strong, equitable, and sustainable communities.

Legal framework

In Scotland, we have a legal framework for tenant participation and there are over 200 registered tenants’ organisations who work to shape local housing services. We have four Regional Tenant Networks who engage with the Scottish Government on issues of national policy. There is also a growing number of tenant and service user scrutiny groups who independently review the housing services of social rented landlords throughout Scotland.

The housing landscape

Scotland has a population of just over 5 million and the Scottish Parliament has devolved powers for housing.

The last 30 years has seen a dramatic change in the shape of housing with over half a million public sector houses being sold through the Right to Buy legislation. We currently have 2.6 million houses in Scotland, 62% are owned, 23% are in the social rented sector, and 15% in the private rented sector.

Scotland’s population is once again steadily increasing with an increase of 200,000 in the last decade, with further growth predicted.

People are also living longer. The over 65’s age group is expected to increase by 20% over the next 10 years, which will increase demands on health and social care.

Challenges

Poverty and inequality
Research shows that poverty is getting worse, with 43% of children in socially rented homes living in relative poverty and 25% in absolute poverty. While the number of households in fuel poverty has been declining, in 2017 there were still 613,000 households defined as being in fuel poverty. Income inequality shows no signs of slowing down. With the current welfare reform legislation in the UK rent affordability is a critical issue for tenants.

Climate change
By 2032, the Scottish Government aims to have 35% of domestic buildings and 70% of non-domestic buildings heated through low carbon technology. The Committee for Climate Change for Scotland is calling for net-zero gas emissions by 2045.

Homelessness
The Shelter Commission highlighted that 3.1 million more social housing are needed in the UK to meet unmet demand over the next 20 years.

Brexit
It is a time of political uncertainty in the UK in forecasting what happens next on Brexit and its impact on supply and demand.

Opportunities

Scottish social landlords continue to show strong performance across the majority of the Scottish Social Housing Charter to increase the supply of warm, energy efficient, sustainable and affordable homes. The sector provides housing to 600,000 people and 9 out of 10 are very satisfied with the homes and services the landlord provides.

The sector is working hard to build 50,000 houses to meet the Scottish Government’s affordable homes target by 2023.

The Scottish Housing Quality Standard and the Energy Efficiency Standard for Scotland has supported improving standards in the social rented sector. But it is essential that the same high quality and safety standards apply across all sectors.

Vision for the future

We are currently debating with the Scottish Government what housing and communities will look like by 2040. At the TIS National Housing Conference in 2019 our members identified their vision to 2040.

  • That social rented housing is recognised as a positive and equal choice;
  • That everyone should have the opportunity to access housing of the same quality and affordability as social housing;
  • That the welfare system is fair and compassionate;
  • That we work in partnership to eradicate homelessness and poverty;
  • That house building is increased for rent and sale and;
  • That tenants’ are empowered and recognised as an integral part in driving service improvements and standards;
  • Housing is seen as a Human Right

This article was published in the October 2019 edition of “Mini survey and reports of IUT members to the 21st World Conference 2019”. Click here to download a copy.

Ilene Campbell
TIS Chief Executive

 

 

 

 

 

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