Housing to 2040: consultation on outline policy options

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Closes 28 Feb 2020


1. Do you have any comments on the draft vision and principles?

Earlier this year we published our draft vision and principles.

2. Do you have any comments on the scenarios and resilience of the route map or constraints?

Annex C

Drivers of change

The high level policies to deliver the 2040 vision will, in due course, be included in a route map to 2040.  For the route map to have lasting value, it has to be resilient around different possible futures.  Some major influencers of the housing system include: population and health; political; economic; technology; transport; energy and climate change; and climate adaptation.

When suggesting your policy proposals, you might like to consider how resilient your proposals are against the following variables or “drivers of change”, noting that change may come faster or slower than forecast or be altogether different.  (Note that this is not an exhaustive list.)

Population and health

  • More single person households
  • Declining working age population
  • Current trend of rural to urban migration - areas of rising population and depopulation, especially in rural areas
  • Need for inward migration to maintain population
  • Falling birth rate
  • Ageing population
  • The gap between life expectancy and healthy life expectancy


  • Increased devolution of powers or full independence for Scotland
  • Relationship with the EU
  • Role of local government
  • Public appetite to pay to fund public services
  • Public engagement in decision-making


  • Relative economic performance between Scotland and rUK
  • Negative impact of Brexit
  • Greater financial innovation, especially “green finance”
  • Exchange rates
  • Scottish Government borrowing limits
  • Balance of imports, exports and internal consumption, e.g. around timber and forestry


  • Increasing automation and artificial intelligence affecting the way we work - different jobs, changing work patterns and skills requirements
  • Technology as enabler for communications, care and longevity
  • Data gathering and integration to improve policy-making and service delivery
  • Balance between on-line and physical interaction, e.g. in retail, and the impact on urban planning
  • Speed of technological development and regulatory lag
  • Growing need for robust cyber security
  • Rollout of 5G and superfast broadband
  • Greater customisation and personalisation


  • Increased use of electric vehicles – could mean a way of storing energy for homes or, in the case of autonomous cars, the depot is a storage node on the grid.
  • More walking and cycling
  • Smart public transport, responding to demand

Energy and climate change mitigation

  • Growing public support for climate action
  • More renewable energy generation and changes to energy infrastructure
  • Improved energy performance for homes and businesses
  • Future of the gas grid – closed or repurposed?
  • Carbon capture and storage
  • Changing patterns of land use and farming methods, re-wilding, re-planting forests, protecting peat lands
  • Changing patterns of consumption of food and other goods

Climate change: adaptation

  • Increased flood risk from sea level rise and excess rainfall
  • Prolonged periods of low rainfall with increased drought and fire risk
  • Higher temperatures and greater need for cooling measures
  • Changes to land use


Constraints: financial and labour market


Scottish Government’s capital budget of over £827 million for the Affordable Housing Supply Programme in 2019-20 represents 16% of the total capital budget[1].  The current level of funding, however, will be difficult to sustain, especially considering the number of demographic, societal and fiscal challenges we face.

In the course of this Scottish Parliamentary term (2016-2021), it is anticipated that the Scottish Government will spend over £4 billion on housing in Scotland, primarily through affordable housing supply, shared equity schemes, energy efficiency measures and mitigating UK Government welfare cuts.  The UK Government will spend over £8 billion on housing in Scotland, primarily through housing benefits and energy efficiency measures.  This brings the total government spend to around £13 billion.  Householders and the private sector will have made significant investment in housing infrastructure over this period too; publicly-funded housing infrastructure also attracts at least 50% private finance.

There are four major areas of investment and activity required in housing infrastructure in the period to 2040:

  • delivering more homes across all tenures;
  • adaptations of (some) existing homes to make them more accessible for disabled persons and appropriate for an ageing population;
  • delivering the Energy Efficient Scotland targets through retrofitting energy efficiency measures in our existing homes; and
  • addressing the backlog of major improvements, maintenance and repairs to existing homes across all tenures, but especially owner occupied homes.

The total cost of all this work might be expected to be of order of magnitude £100 billion[2] over the 20 year period, apportioned between the public and private sectors and households.  (By way of comparison, the total Scottish Government budget for 2019/20 is around £34.7 billion[3].)  One important constraint is the need to spread the cost of this work equitably across all sectors and distribute sensibly over time.  In particular, public sector costs must be bearable and also take account of any revenue impact (positive or negative) from the policy options.

A whole systems approach to housing delivery needs to take account of all public sector housing-related costs and receipts.  We need to bring more new and innovative forms of finance into the housing system and make sure that public investment complements, rather than displaces, private investment. 

Labour market

Similarly, the work will need to be done by an evolving workforce and different skills will be required in different combinations for each activity.  The planning and sequencing of the work in the route map will need to take account of the  availability of people with the right skills in the different regions of Scotland.  For example, there may be only so many electricians available at any given time in the Highlands and they cannot be overcommitted.  This is a second important constraint.

Some important factors affecting availability include: the overall workforce size, shaped by demographic changes, including an ageing population and migration to, from and within Scotland; worker mobility across Scotland and between sectors of the economy; opportunities for training and re-training; the need for skills to evolve to suit new and emerging technologies; and the latency of the system –recruitment and training take time.

We also need to be active in shaping the future workforce to deliver the route map and the vision for 2040.  For example, Scottish Government is already considering the future skills requirements to deliver new housing and more broadly[4].

We need to think about efficient deployment too – if a home needs adapting and retrofitting, then it might make better use of skilled workers to do this in a combined effort.  This is in line with the Place Principle[5], requiring a more joined-up, collaborative, and participative approach to services, land and buildings, across all sectors within a place.

When we consider the sequencing of options, both these constraints need to be borne in mind.



[1] The total capital budget is £5,106 million, including Financial Transaction Capital.

[2] This means closer to £100 billion than either £10 billion or £1 trillion.

[3] DEL only, i.e. excluding AME.

[4] See the New Housing and Future Construction Skills Report, May 2019, and the Future Skills Action Plan, September 2019.

[5] See the Scottish Government’s Place Principle.

For questions 3 to 7 below, when making proposals, please be as specific as you can about:
  • Who needs to make it happen and what type of action is required?  E.g. facilitation, regulatory, financial, infrastructure, training etc.
  • How much it costs and who will pay?
  • Who is needed to do the work (workforce)?
  • How long the proposal would take to implement and whether it is a temporary or permanent measure?
  • When in the period 2021 to 2040 should it begin and does anything need to be done first?
  • Who will benefit (who is it for)?  And who might lose out and how could this be mitigated?  (Think about equality groups and different types of organisation and geography and the impact on the wider community.)
  • How does it help deliver the draft vision?  Does it align with the draft principles?

We recognise you may not be able to answer all of these questions – please do not let that put you off responding to us with your proposals.

3. Do you have any proposals that would increase the affordability of housing in the future?
4. Do you have any proposals that would increase the accessibility and/or functionality of existing and new housing (for example, for older and disabled people)?
5. Do you have any proposals that would help us respond to the global climate emergency by increasing the energy efficiency and warmth and lowering the carbon emissions of existing and new housing?
6. Do you have any proposals that would improve the quality, standards and state of repair of existing and new housing?
7. Do you have any proposals that would improve the space around our homes and promote connected places and vibrant communities?
8. Any other comments?