Home should be a place of comfort and belonging for everyone. Living in a community where we have support networks, services and can access greenspace are key to living healthily and thriving. The last year has brought into sharp focus how precarious this can be for some. Too many people are struggling to meet their housing costs, too many households are living in temporary accommodation and uncertainty remains for many who have lost their jobs and income as a result of the pandemic. Protections from the ban on eviction have been vital for some but many have rising debts from unpaid rents and are uncertain about what will happen to their tenancies once the protections are removed.
Realising the right to housing for communities across Scotland is inextricably linked to realising the right to health. We can’t improve health or tackle health inequalities if our communities are living in housing which is poor quality, doesn’t meet their needs or is insecure.
That is why at Public Health Scotland we are strongly supportive of Housing to 2040, Scotland’s first ever long-term national housing strategy and route map to upholding the right to housing for everyone.
The strategy aims for everyone to have a safe, high-quality home that is affordable and meets their needs in the place they want to be by 2040. It has a focus on realising the right to housing and puts communities at the heart of vibrant places, creating choice for people and taking an equalities-led approach to policy development.
Families should have homes which enable them to grow and flourish and everyone should be warm and dry at home. We need to address the climate change emergency for generations to come. Our child poverty, fuel poverty and climate change targets are all intertwined with action to deliver safe, quality and affordable homes.
It is good to see that one of the Scottish Government’s first activities related to delivering Housing to 2040 is to undertake a comprehensive audit of current housing and homelessness legislation to understand how best to realise the right to adequate housing. We warmly welcome this and would highlight the importance of these policy developments being informed by a strong evidence base.
Improving quality standards of social homes, refreshing the standards for varying needs, focusing on place and neighbourhoods, affordability are all actions which are equally important to realising the right to adequate housing, and we look forward to working with partners to support this vital work.
In March 2021 we contributed to the Scottish Government’s Equalities Position Statement which considered the impact of Housing to 2040 on child rights, equalities and health. Building on this we have recently published Healthy Housing for Scotland, a briefing paper to support the impact assessment of forthcoming policy and practice, locally and nationally, by drawing on current evidence to show how housing can influence health and wellbeing.
Katrina Reid – Health Improvement Manager, Health and Housing
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