Scotland Can Provide Good Homes For All

Faodaidh Alba dachaighean math a thoirt dhan a h-uile duine

Our vision for housing is simple: we need good homes for everyone, homes that are of a decent standard and are affordable. This vision has become more distant in the last 30 years, with rising house prices, a smaller social rented sector and more insecurity for private renters. With more Green MSPs we can propose measures to make affordable housing available for all, raise standards in private housing, and end fuel poverty.

The Scottish Greens will push for action to increase the amount of social housing, control rents, increase security of tenure and improve management in the private sector. We need at least 12,000 new social rented homes to be built each year, and thousands more than that just to meet population growth and replace older housing. This will require many new jobs and training opportunities to meet demand. We will support ways to gradually reduce house prices and to improve the quality of new zero-carbon housing. We believe that renting should be a positive option, and that our homes must be affordable to buy, affordable to rent and affordable to heat.

With rent controls, a crack-down on dodgy landlords and regulation of letting agents, Greens have the policies to turn houses into homes and put housing at the heart of a socially just Scotland. By tackling fuel poverty and investing in 12,000 new social homes a year we can continue to build a Scotland that can provide good homes for all.

Maggie Chapman

Our commitments

  • Build More Homes

    Scotland can build more homes, including 12,000 new social homes a year, to create new jobs and help provide good homes for all.

  • Make Renting Fair

    We need many more social rented homes, fairer rents and better quality management in the private rented sector.

  • End Fuel Poverty

    Nobody should be unable to heat their home; Green MSPs will continue to make ending fuel poverty a national priority.

Scotland can build more homes:

  • A radical housing agenda. Green MSPs will campaign for a radical programme of reform designed to deliver thousands more good quality, affordable, sustainable homes. Our ideas are designed to make land available for housing at low cost and ensure more homes are built where they are needed.
  • Get more for our money. We can build more houses, to a higher quality, with the same budget by paying less for land. We will push to give Councils the power to buy land for housing at ‘existing use value’, where land is valued according to its current use rather than what it could be worth if another activity, such as house building, were to take place. This was possible in Scotland until 1959, and is still done in Germany. It will allow local authorities to ensure housing is delivered for less money, by councils, housing associations, co-ops and the private sector.
  • Use empty homes and vacant land. We will fight to end tax reliefs which keep homes and land out of use. Scotland’s 11,000 hectares of vacant and derelict land should be liable for non-domestic rates. This would raise £250m a year for investment and encourage development on the land. Our property tax would include no reduction for second or empty homes and help bring Scotland’s 27,000 empty homes back into use. Using a property as a second home should require planning consent – this would boost the supply of housing in rural areas. We will support new legislation to enable development in the public interest where land is in fragmented ownership.
  • Unlock investment. We will propose a Housing Investment Bank as an extra source of funding for social housing. Investment can be made attractive to pension funds through a government-guaranteed rate of return. This would offer security to pension funds, an ethical investment for public pensions and a large additional source of housing funding at little cost to the government. This would be similar to the idea behind export credit guarantees (where the Government covers part of the risk of exporting, in order to encourage exports) – removing some risk in order to achieve an economically desirable outcome.

Scotland can make renting fair:

  • Affordable rents. Rents in Scotland are increasing faster than many tenants can afford. Green MSPs helped win rent controls for the worst affected areas and we will continue to campaign for rent controls across Scotland which reflect the quality of the property and limit future rent rises. With rent controls, greater security of tenure and the ability to challenge bad landlords, we can make renting a positive option.
  • Hold letting agencies to account. We will promote better regulation to tackle poor service and ensure information is available about good letting agencies and landlords. This will help tenants decide where to rent and will drive up standards of service. Many European countries have landlord organisations that make a long-term commitment to providing stable, secure, affordable, well-managed housing. Such security in the private rented sector makes renting a positive choice in Europe. In Scotland there are many good landlords, but too many poor ones. We will work to professionalise the private rented sector for the benefit of tenants.
  • Transform housing benefit. Housing benefit is cumbersome and over-complicated and it needs to be devolved. Green plans for rent control and a fair property tax would mean lower public spending on housing benefit as well as more affordable rents. Over time we want to move away from subsidising high rents towards subsidising bricks and mortar for quality, affordable housing that benefits tenants.
  • Support for housing cooperatives. We will support legislative changes which make it easier to establish housing cooperatives or bring rented property into shared management.

Scotland can end fuel poverty:

  • Not-for-profit repair service. With almost half of Scottish homes failing basic quality standards, we need to make it easier for people to make necessary improvements and manage large-scale work. We will propose a not-for-profit service to manage major repairs including to tenements. This could be done by existing housing associations, or a network of local services, including local authority companies, housing associations, and voluntary agencies. Such a network would develop expertise in commissioning and managing repair works and would have better purchasing power by operating on a large scale.
  • Financial support for building repairs. The cost of repair work is a barrier to improving our housing stock. People need to be able to carry out essential repairs and improvements at an affordable rate. We will press for the removal of VAT on building repairs, and we will propose targeted help with financing repairs – for example, energy efficiency grants for low income households, interest-free loans paid back through an incremental increase on property tax, or options to defer paying repair costs until the property is sold.
  • End fuel poverty. Over one third of people in Scotland are in fuel poverty; this is a national disgrace and we need a bold approach to meet the challenge of ending fuel poverty once and for all. Green MSPs will continue to make energy efficiency a national priority, calling for the expansion of area-based retrofitting schemes and pushing the boundaries of newly devolved powers to design a Scottish fuel poverty scheme funded by the largest energy companies. We will push for all homes to achieve an Energy Performance Certificate of Band C by 2025 and support the introduction of minimum energy efficiency standards at the point of sale or rent. Some current schemes are over-complicated (for customers and for suppliers) – we’ll push to streamline the processes for getting access to funding and enhance the national advice service currently provided by Energy Saving Trust.

Scotland can be a safe and secure place to live:

  • Reduce house prices. House price rises are locking a generation of young people out of a secure place to live. When house prices increase too fast, many people can’t afford to buy, others take on too much debt, and the economy suffers from the house price bubble. But even in this situation, many people feel forced into home ownership because of the lack of affordable alternatives. To put downward pressure on house prices, we will ensure a steady supply of land for housing at low cost and ensure that it is developed. This requires better control of bank lending, better affordable renting options and a fair property tax.
  • Tackle homelessness. Local authorities provide over 10,000 households with temporary accommodation and last year received almost 36,000 homeless applications. In addition to increasing housing supply and controlling rents, we need a national strategy on preventing homelessness, including measures to empower tenants through better advice and support, including legal aid. We must also provide appropriate support for those who have particular needs such as women and children escaping domestic violence.
  • Better quality homes. Paying less for land allows for more investment in quality homes. We will support action to drive up space standards, design houses which are easy to adapt for independent living, and build net zero carbon homes.

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