Scotland Policy Conferences

Housing policy in Scotland - the Government’s long-term strategy, protecting vulnerable groups, and the new regulatory framework

Morning, Wednesday, 1st April 2020

Central Edinburgh


This conference will examine the way forward for housing in Scotland, addressing how to meet current needs and future requirements, evaluating the Scottish Government’s vision for housing strategy and discussing how to establish an equitable system which balances the interests of both tenants and landlords.

It is timed to follow the expected publication of the Scottish Government’s Housing to 2040 and the accompanying route map of delivery. The Scottish Government has placed increasing emphasis on house building and addressing housing problems through its More Homes Scotland Approach. Having exceeded its previous target of delivering 30,000 affordable houses by 2016, the Scottish Government has pledged to spend over £3.3 billion in delivering at least 50,000 more affordable houses (of which 35,000 will be for social rent) by March 2021.

In the course of this Scottish Parliamentary term (2016-2021), it is anticipated that the Scottish Government will spend over £4 billion on housing, primarily through affordable housing supply, shared equity schemes, energy efficiency measures and supplementing welfare payments. HM Government will spend over £8 billion on housing in Scotland, primarily through housing benefits and energy efficiency measures.

Adopting a more long-term approach to housing, the Scottish Government undertook stakeholder engagement, the report on which was published in May 2019. The subsequent Housing Beyond 2021 paper will inform discussions on the future direction of housing policy in Scotland and be incorporated into the Housing to 2040 report, due to be published in early 2020.

The conference is also expected to consider the new regulatory framework published in February 2019 and how the Scottish Housing Regulator will fulfil its objectives of safeguarding and promoting the interests of those who are: homeless, tenants of social landlords, or recipients of housing services provided by social landlords.

We are pleased that the agenda for this conference includes keynote addresses from: Aileen Campbell MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government and Ian Brennan, Director of Regulation, Scottish Housing Regulator.

Sessions in the agenda focus on:

  • The Scottish Government’s strategy for housing across Scotland;
  • Assessing Housing to 2040 and the route map: accessibility, affordability and energy efficiency;
  • Meeting Scotland’s housing needs: homelessness, supporting an ageing population and tackling poverty;
  • Balancing the interests of tenants and landlords, improving existing housing stock and private rented accommodation; and
  • The new regulatory framework from the Scottish Housing Regulator: implications for tenants and Registered Social Landlords (RSLs).

The vision for the future of housing across Scotland

Delegates will focus on the twenty year strategy for the future direction of housing policy, as laid out in the Scottish Government’s document Housing to 2040 and its achievability. It is anticipated that it will focus on helping people find an affordable home; which should take account of running costs, as well as mortgage or rent payments. It will push for houses with improved accessibility standards, and recognise the need for design standards to incorporate greater flexibility. Following the First Minister’s declaration of a climate emergency, energy efficiency is expected to be central to the document, alongside the related issue of fuel poverty.

Further sessions will look at how to address current and envisioned housing needs: with the number of people applying for homelessness status in Scotland increasing for the second year in a row, already £2 million has been made available for use by Social Bite, £8 million put into the implementation of rapid rehousing transition plans in every area and plans announced to remove the requirement for people facing homelessness to have a connection to a council area before they can receive support from that local authority.

How the combination of an ageing population and a persistent gap between life expectancy and healthy life expectancy, resulting in increasing costs of health and social care services should be dealt with in relation to housing policy, and efforts by local authorities to tackle child poverty through the Local Housing Strategies will also be discussed.

Areas for discussion include plans announced in the2019-20 Programme for Government such as:

  • A requirement that from 2024 all new builds must use renewable or low carbon heat;
  • The Fuel Poverty Strategy to be announced in 2020;
  • Spending £32.5 million over the next three years on the Rapid Rehousing and Housing First programmes;
  • A £150 million national pilot scheme to provide support for first-time buyers with up to £25,000 towards their deposits. The scheme will launch in December 2019;
  • Introduction of a £1.5 million Homelessness Prevention Fund to increase and spread the work of social landlords in supporting low-income families in social housing in ways that help to prevent crisis points and avoid homelessness;
  • As part of the Ending Homelessness Together Action Plan, there will be £4.5 million for third sector organisations on the frontline to innovate and transform the services they provide; and
  • The introduction of legislation in the coming year to extend the Unsuitable Accommodation Order.

The implications of the new regulatory framework from the Scottish Housing Regulator

Later sessions will look at this year’s new regulatory framework as set down by the Scottish Housing Regulator for oversight of both Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) and the housing and homelessness services provided by local authorities.

Delegates will consider how the framework can be used to encourage a ‘culture of assurance, openness and transparency’, as led down in the Regulator’s remit. Balancing the interests of tenants and landlords, improving existing housing stock and conditions in private rented accommodation will be discussed, as will the concept of a single standard for all properties, across all tenures.

Areas for discussion include:

Keynote Speakers

Aileen Campbell MSP

Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government

Ian Brennan

Director of Regulation, Scottish Housing Regulator


Moira Bayne

Chief Executive, Housing Options Scotland

Mike Thornton

Group Director, Operations, Energy Saving Trust

Dr Louise Reid

Director, Centre for Housing Research, University of St Andrews

Jim Strang

President, Chartered Institute of Housing

John Blackwood

Chief Executive, Scottish Association of Landlords

Senior speaker confirmed from Living Rent

Senior speaker from the Scottish Housing Regulator (to be confirmed)