A National Housing Company

The Housing Crisis

Despite being in the midst of a housing crisis, in which three Councils has become a Housing Emergency and local authorities are unable to meet statutory obligations in relation to homelessness provision, the Scottish affordable housing budget has been cut by $200 million.

Scotland’s largest landlord – the post housing stock landlord – the Wheatley Group, which controls around 90,000 properties in the social rented sector or among factored owners in housing schemes, is keen to promote a new wave of mass public housing demolition. Following bond issuances to international and American headquartered investment managers like BlackRock, the Wheatley Group is keen to abuse the affordable housing supply grant to transform its portfolio of social housing towards the private rented sector via a fresh wave of mass public housing demolition. The Wheatley Group is directly responsible for 17,500 demolitions of public homes and has built only 3500 to replace these demolitions. It was supposed to have disbanded in 2013 into community-controlled housing associations, but instead has become the largest landlord in the country.

In tandem with the Wheatley Group, English conglomerate (Places for People), which controls 240,000 homes, is acquiring Scotland’s oldest housing association, a Reidvale Housing Association, which is a housing association very much in the pink, with millions of pounds in reserves. This represents a takeover of public assets by a foreign based housing company to acquire these public assets. Reidvale Housing Association has a long and proud history, being established as one of the first community-controlled housing associations to retrofit pre 1919 tenements to bring these to a modern standard. This takeover of Scottish assets is being opposed by a vociferous campaign.

Therefore, we are seeking a national housing Company in order to deliver public housing and would make the following changes to help eradicate the Housing Crisis Scotland currently faces.

In line with our support for stopping their mass demolition programme, that the Wheatley Group is broken up, its constituent parts taken over by Councils and suitable public bodies that serve its respective stock, contributing towards the creation of a national housing company..

We must campaign for a public statute to be enacted that no registered social landlord (with the exception of local authorities) should be allowed to control a majority stake of public housing in a local authority or indeed a postcode district..

ALBA supports the idea that public housing should be delivered by public bodies accountable to their tenants and the Scottish people and that public housing should not be taken over by the financial interests of international capital such as BlackRock (which now has a controlling interest in the Wheatley Group) or massive landlord conglomerates based outside of Scotland (such as Places for People which is taking over the entirely solvent Housing Association, Reidvale Housing Association, to add to its commercial portfolio)..

Given the enormity of the housing crisis, ALBA calls for a statutory obligation on all property owners to satisfy to the Scottish Housing Regulator that they have exhausted all options other than demolition before this is recommended..

ALBA calls for the Scottish Housing Regulator be elected by social housing tenants, with ballots circulated as part of the Holyrood elections, with an identical number of board positions to Scottish jurors (15). These elections would be open to all social housing tenants..

Given the £200million housing budget cut we need to make it easier for local authorities to build homes. We know that this is cheaper and quicker than the alternative. Alba especially seeks to ensure that those local authorities that outsourced housebuilding to Housing Associations as a result of housing stock transfer begin building public housing directly.