As a social determinant of health, better housing, greater security and affordability are key to addressing structural drivers of health inequality. This has been brought into sharper focus as a result of COVID-19, creating a recognition that the design, quality and affordability of our homes should be central to our recovery.

The Impact of Social Housing: Economic, Social, Health and Wellbeing is a new report, published today, written by UK Collaborative Centre of Housing Evidence (CaCHE) and HACT for the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA), Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), Public Health Scotland, and the Rural and Islands Housing Associations Forum (RIHAF). It brings together evidence that demonstrates the impact and value of social landlords’ housing and wider services. The report also demonstrates how housing associations and co-operatives can measure the social and economic value of their work and evidence how it aligns with the Scottish Government’s National Performance Framework.

Social housing generates important health, economic and social impacts for its residents, communities and for Scotland. These impacts are multi-dimensional, measurable and can contribute to Scotland’s national ambitions. The report found that investment in the social housing sector generates economic and social benefits for Scotland and its people, including reducing poverty and homelessness, improving health, and creating jobs. It shows that increasing affordable housing supply levels has many social benefits which can help to address inequality.

Dr Matt Lowther, Head of Place and Equity, Public Health Scotland, said:

"We know that housing is a critical public health issue and that factors such as housing condition, energy efficiency, accessibility and affordability make a difference for physical and mental health outcomes.  

"The COVID-19 pandemic has also brought the limitations of space standards and amenity levels into sharp focus, highlighting that the design and quality of our homes also needs to be a central part of any housing and placed-based strategy in the recovery programme.  

"This research underlines the contribution that social housing has, and can, continue to have in reducing inequalities, and, as providers of social housing, local government and housing associations will make a significant contribution to our recovery from the current public health crisis."

The Impact of Social Housing: Economic, Social, Health and Wellbeing report and summary can be viewed on the SFHA website.

Last updated: 06 October 2022