Scotland has a housing crisis. We have a crisis with the availability, the cost and the quality of our housing. This impacts on the lives of those who find themselves inadequately housed, or at the mercy of a system which seems increasingly designed to make it difficult to sustain themselves in secure accommodation. This crisis also impacts on the workforce trying to deliver social housing in Scotland. They are struggling to maintain a quality of service against a background of often declining resources and increased financial pressure, yet as their workload increases the value of their wages declines.
This brief report looks at scale of the problem. Seeking to go beyond the raw statistics we bring to bear the experiences of housing staff via the results of a survey of UNISON members working in social housing who are on the front line of trying to cope with Scotland’s housing crisis.
We need as a matter of urgency a large scale investment in both building and refurbishing social housing. The case for this is both moral and pragmatic. Addressing the market failure that is Scotland’s housing crisis will meet a crying social need; it will also provide skilled jobs. Done properly it would also reduce carbon use through better insulation and reduced use of energy to heat inefficient homes, help tackle health inequalities and reduce pressure on other public services.
Any plan for social justice – and Scotland has had no shortage of talk of social justice in recent months – must have housing at its core.