Ahead of the local authority elections on Thursday 5 May, the Borders Housing Network the 4 Registered Social Landlords based in the Scottish Borders (Berwickshire, Eildon, SBHA and Waverley Housing) are highlighting some of the benefits they collectively bring to local communities.
The Borders Housing Network (BHN) fully supports the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations’ (SFHA) election campaign, Housing Changes Communities. SFHA is the national representative body for Scotland’s housing associations and co-operatives. Its campaign is demonstrating how its members’ affordable homes and wider services help their local communities.
Some of this work can be delivered with local authorities, for example, building new affordable housing developments, making existing homes more energy efficient, and helping councils to prevent homelessness, as well as tackling fuel poverty.
Nile Istephan, on behalf of the Borders Housing Network, said, “The four Housing Associations coming together as the Borders Housing Network means we can address key challenges facing the region more effectively through collaboration. A good example of this is the increasing price in fuels costs. In March 2021, after a successful joint bid, we were awarded £450,000 in Scottish Government funding to clear or make significant payments towards tenants’ fuel debt in a bid to help with fuel poverty. £250,000 of this grant was paid to the Fuel Bank Foundation, to issue emergency top-up vouchers for pre-payment meters to tenants in hardship. This allowed us all to offer something tangible to our tenants in need. The remaining £200,000 was then split among the housing associations to make payments on behalf of a tenant to their energy supplier. We have since been successful for a second tranche of funding. A further £300k has now been received from Scottish Government via the SFHA to help tenants in extreme fuel debt. Support is being given by the Tenancy Sustainment Teams from each RSL who meet regularly to report on how the funds are being allocated to their tenants in dire need.”
Research, released by SFHA, on the impact of its members’ work has found:
- Increasing the supply of affordable housing, with lower rents than in the private sector, can help to reduce poverty.
- The employment and training opportunities provided by housing associations and co-operatives can help to build more resilient communities, particularly in rural and island areas of Scotland.
- Good quality, warm, energy-efficient affordable housing can help to improve people’s physical and mental health and wellbeing.
- Housing associations and co-operatives are helping to prevent homelessness in Scotland through their tenancy sustainment services. They are also tackling homelessness by working in partnership with local authorities to provide housing for homeless people through councils’ Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans and Housing First support.
- Housing associations and co-operatives are helping to tackle climate change in Scotland by using sustainable construction methods, providing energy advice services for tenants, and leading climate change projects.
Sally Thomas, SFHA Chief Executive, said:
“Across Scotland, housing associations and co-operatives provide safe, warm, affordable homes. They work with partners, including councils and tenants, to create thriving communities which help people to live well and fulfil their potential. They do this by building high-quality homes for affordable rent, maintaining them to an excellent standard, contributing to local communities and supporting their tenants.
“The impact of housing associations and co-operatives’ work goes far beyond ‘just’ delivering housing – they are helping tackle poverty, inequality and climate change and working with councils to deliver on their duty to prevent homelessness. As the cost-of-living crisis continues to take hold, this work will become increasingly vital.”