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Response to Housing & Wellbeing Consultation

Commission on Housing & Wellbeing

CAS contributed evidence to the independent Commission on Housing & Wellbeing's wide-ranging consultation on how housing can promote a society in which everyone can flourish.

The response was based on bureau evidence on housing issues including housing conditions, homelessness, Housing Benefit and rent arrears, as well as CAS' statutory responsibilities on energy.

Key points from our response:

  • CAS supports the understanding of wellbeing proposed in the consultation document, but would also recommend expanding the headings to include further details such as neighbourhood quality, employment, environmental sustainability and air quality.

  • The introduction of Universal Credit presents a number of unknown quantities for the relationship between housing and welfare in Scotland.

  • The recommendations of the Smith Commission present some opportunities for policy innovation in the area of housing and welfare. However, as Housing Benefit and some key social security benefits are not recommended for devolution, some of the suggested medium and long term policy options are unlikely to be possible.

  • CAS believes the Commission’s report would be further enhanced by giving more space to the Scottish Government’s forthcoming consultation on regulating minimum standards of energy efficiency in private sector housing. The roll-out of smart meters should be considered by the Commission.

  • Any proposal for an ‘equity release’ scheme for property repairs would need to be accompanied by independent financial advice to protect older and more vulnerable consumers.

  • CAS would agree that more attention needs to be paid to the needs of rough sleepers, and would also recommend the Commission considers the needs of other ‘hidden’ homelessness such as ‘sofa-surfing’ individuals

  • The potential for collective community energy projects should be explored in new and existing housing developments

  • CAS is frequently alarmed at the quality and upkeep of private rental properties, often let by ‘persistent offenders’ in the landlord community; and particularly focussed in urban areas, especially Scotland’s inner cities. The Scottish PRS market must strive to achieve the high standards that many of its landlords already achieve to ensure that renters get the best quality of living conditions.

  • The Commission must be mindful of the growing number of people ‘trapped’ in the private rented sector (PRS). Additionally, the PRS cannot be seen to take the place of social housing.

  • Tribunal judges in the PRS should be able to should be able to take into account mitigating circumstances before providing eviction notices.

  • CAS recommends a national taskforce is set up to clamp down on rogue landlords. This should also be co-ordinated with Police Scotland to tackle landlords with links to organised crime.
Rob Gowans, Kate Morrison, Fraser Stewart and Fraser Sutherland
Publication date
November 2014
Publication type
Number of pages