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Call for housing investments in Scotland

The former Auditor General of Scotland, Robert Black, in a press conference scheduled to hold later today will say that spending on housing should be seen as a preventative measure.

He will be speaking at the annual Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) conference in Glasgow and saying that bad housing has the potential to damage lives.

Charities said 13% of households in Scotland were affected by dampness or condensation. Mr Black is to address delegates on Wednesday as chair of the Housing and Wellbeing Commission, established by Shelter Scotland to recommend national housing priorities and policies to improve the lives of Scots.

Speaking ahead of the conference, he said significant savings to future health service, social care services, homelessness and other budgets could be made if Scotland invested in housing now.

“Our society faces major challenges in responding to the consequences of a chronic housing crisis now and in the future,” he said.

“Today, a serious lack of affordable housing and poor quality housing continues to damage the health and life chances of thousands of families and individuals in Scotland.

“To avoid a health and inequality time bomb, Scotland must build more homes and improve the quality of existing stock. Only then can it ensure the wellbeing of its people.”

Scottish government figures suggest about 13% of households are affected by dampness or condensation – or both – while 39% (940,000) are in fuel poverty.

Shelter said recent attempts in England to quantify the monetary cost of poor housing to the NHS had estimated it to be at least £600m per year.

It is also estimated that each incident of repeat homelessness costs up to £15,000.

Mr Black added: “The impact bad housing is having on the next generation has the potential to devastate lives.

“But equally, the rapidly growing population of older people, which is already placing significant demands on the NHS and other services, need resources and preventative housing services to ensure they can stay in their homes for as long as they need.

Speaking about housing investments, Mr, Black had this to say: “Investment in housing is investment in people and the future prosperity of Scotland.”

David Ogilvie, CIH head of policy, said more houses were needed urgently and therefore new housing investments should be encouraged.

Speaking on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme, he said: “We already have a situation where there is not enough supply.

“We are building half of what we need to across all tenures. We only built in 2013/14 around 16,000 homes.

“We have 180,000 currently on local authority waiting lists, but there will be others who are on housing association lists.”

The Scottish government said it planned to spend more than £1.7bn by 2016 on delivering 30,000 affordable homes, and had already reached 80% of that target.

A spokesman said abolition of the Right to Buy would protect up to 15,500 homes over the next 10 years.

The rest of this report can be found at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-31815381

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