ScotGov targets for affordable housing are ‘at risk’ after £177million in budget cuts.

The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH), a professional standards body, has raised concerns about the cuts, warning that progress on homelessness is at risk without a funding commitment for rapid resettlement into permanent housing rather than temporary accommodation.

Concerns over how the Scottish Government is handling the housing crisis have surfaced when it was revealed that the Homes First plan outlined by Nicola Sturgeon in a government program for 2021 has had its budget cut by almost 25% in a year, a drop of £ £744.252m in 2022/23 to £567.471m in the next financial year.

Housing activists believe there is a “housing crisis” and have labeled the cuts “criminal,” while saying it shows ministers have “deprioritized” the fight against homelessness.

CIH, in a study, raised concerns that local authorities will not meet the Scottish Government’s Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans (RRTP) ambitions by next year and raised concerns about a lack of commitment to their funding after a five-year period in the year 2024 ends. despite progress in transforming homeless services”.

It also warned that Ukrainian refugees are living in “unsuitable accommodation” such as cruise ships while local authorities work on longer-term solutions.

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When Homes First was launched two years ago, the First Minister said at least 70% of the 110,000 social and affordable housing will be for social rent.

However, financial papers confirming the cuts say they reflect “broader budgetary pressures” across the Scottish Government.

The Scottish Government met its target of building 50,000 affordable homes in March last year – but it was a year later than expected.

This comes after 9,757 affordable homes were delivered in 2021/22 – the highest number in a single financial year since 2000/01.

The original delivery schedule of March 2021 was impacted by “significant challenges” from the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns.

The total number of homes completed in the 12 months ended March 2022 increased by 51% (3,279 homes) versus the 6,478 homes completed in the prior year.

But according to official surveillance analysis, the number of homes approved and started has declined.

In the year ended September 2022, 7,160 affordable housing were approved, a decrease of 16% (1,414 apartments) from the previous year, and 8,256 apartments were started, a decrease of 19% (1,877 apartments).

CIH said the Scottish Government’s Homes First pledge for affordable housing by 2032 “will present a major challenge due to financial pressures”.

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Shelter Scotland director Alison Watson said the cuts “show in black and white that ministers have decided to deprioritize the fight against homelessness”.

“The consequences of this are inevitable; more misery for thousands of people stuck in makeshift shelters, more children trapped in poverty and the perpetuation of the ongoing housing shortage,” she said.

“People working in this sector have been telling the Scottish Government for years that the only way to end homelessness is to create more social housing, so it will be impossible for ministers to plead ignorance if the inevitable happens.

“Cuts of this magnitude can only be described as devastating for the fight against homelessness.”

The Scottish Tenants’ Organization added: “A massive cut of nearly £200m to build affordable housing in Scotland is nothing short of criminal, which will cause a tsunami of homelessness in Scotland. The new First Minister must reverse this cut immediately, otherwise we will witness the death of social housing in Scotland.”

HeraldScotland: Stock photo of affordable housing. Image: Ian Burt

RRTPs were developed by each of Scotland’s 32 local authorities as part of the Scottish Government’s drive to end homelessness in Scotland.

RRTPs show a way to reduce the time people spend in temporary housing, move as far away from hotel and B&B use as possible, and ensure the Housing First approach is available to people who need extra need support.

Housing First was created to be the first solution for homeless people who have diverse and complex needs, such as:

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But an analysis by CIH, prepared in conjunction with the launch of Scotland’s Housing Festival at the SEC in Glasgow today, says eight out of 32 local authorities are still providing Housing First services, according to the latest monitoring report. Three more municipalities plan to introduce services in 2023/24.

And CIH, in an analysis prepared today in relation to the launch of the Scottish Housing Festival at the SEC in Glasgow, says its feedback suggests existing Housing First projects may be at risk and that it will be “extremely difficult to expand the offering” without committed, long-term funding through RRTPs or other avenues.

A survey of Scottish local authorities found just over a quarter said there was sufficient funding to meet all RRTP ambitions.

None said they will have met all of the targets set under RRTP within the five years, with just over half saying they had met most of the targets.

And about 80% of the local authorities participating in the study had difficulties recruiting and retaining staff, which has a significant impact on service delivery. Common themes included short-term funding commitments, hiring freezes within organizations and more attractive employment opportunities offered in other sectors.

“There is a clear need for dedicated funding to support RRTPs in the future and for the Scottish Government to work with local authorities to review the funding distribution model,” the CIH said in an analysis.

“A decision on future funding must be made urgently so that ongoing projects can be continued, otherwise there is a risk that previous progress will be lost entirely.

“The Scottish Government should work with COSLA [the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities] and local government finance directors to ensure that funds are used fully to support the development of homeless services and for their intended purpose and are not allocated to other areas of spending.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Scottish ministers declared themselves a “super sponsor”, giving Ukrainian refugees the opportunity to travel immediately without having to find a private sponsor.

However, the popularity of the ‘supersponsor’ scheme led the Scottish Government to suspend applications in July 2022.

Official data shows that in November the program received 35,501 applications, issued 30,629 visas and welcomed 17,463 arrivals to date, the highest rate per capita in the UK.

The CIH said the arrival of so many households in a short space of time inevitably created “challenges” for local authorities with already expanded services.

It said: “While housing has been secured in the short-term, many are living in unsuitable accommodation, including chartered cruise ships, and local authorities are working on longer-term housing solutions.”

Social landlords have been urged to apply for capital grant funding to provide longer-term housing over a £50m over three years.

The fund was created after the RRTP group, made up largely of council officials, warned that housing providers were unable to accommodate refugees in addition to tackling existing homelessness problems with the resources made available to them.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We remain committed to making £3.5bn available for affordable housing during the current Parliament session as part of our ambitious plans to build 110,000 affordable homes by 2032.

“We remain fully committed to moving fast and living first. We are providing local authorities with £52.5m for their Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans to help people get settled first before helping them with their longer term needs. This is on top of the £30.5million we are giving to councils for their broader work to prevent and tackle homelessness. ScotGov targets for affordable housing are ‘at risk’ after £177million in budget cuts.

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