The Scottish Parliament will debate tonight (Weds June 12th) how to create more housing co-ops in Scotland – to deliver cheaper rents, safer communities and more power to tenants.
Labour MSP Johann Lamont, who has secured the debate, said Scotland needed more housing co-ops, highlighting the significant benefits they offer.
She said: “There are some brilliant examples - Edinburgh Student Housing Co-Op charges £322 per month against average student rents of £550-plus. People living in West Whitlawburn in Cambuslang faced real challenges with drugs and crime in their community before the co-op was established and turned things around - 30 years on, it is a thriving community. We need to shout more about co-ops and help communities to enjoy cheaper, better, safer and fairer housing.”
The debate follows the publication of the report - Shared Space: How Scottish Housing Co-ops build communities - by Co-operatives UK in February.
Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK, said: “More people in Scotland deserve the choice to live in successful, affordable housing communities. I’m delighted that the Holyrood debate shows this important report is being taken seriously.”
The debate takes place just before Co-op Fortnight [24 June to 7 July] and Mr Mayo added: “The timing of this debate in the run-up to Co-op Fortnight is fortuitous as we encourage people to come together in two weeks of mass cooperation. It’s a chance to shine a spotlight on what can be achieved when we co-operate.
“The co-operative economy should start in the home - and that means getting housing co-ops and the benefits they bring to communities on to the policy agenda in Scotland.”
The decline of social housing stock in Scotland and parallel rise of the private rented sector has created a squeeze on those looking for affordable homes in the social rented sector. Despite the clear benefits, Scotland has just 11 registered housing co-ops, compared to 685 across the UK – although 150,000 people in Scotland are on council house waiting lists.
“Our report shows there are many good reasons why we should see a new golden age of housing co-ops - to tackle the broken housing market,” saud Mr Mayo. “We hope the Scottish Government will look at the report’s recommendations and move quickly to set up a group to closely examine the case for more housing co-ops in Scotland as a matter of priority.
“Co-operatives UK is very grateful to Johann Lamont, James Kelly MSP - Chair of the Cross-Party Group on Co-ops - and other active MSPs for pushing the case for a more cooperative economy in Scotland with housing co-ops at its heart.”
The Cross Party Group on Co-ops will be meeting on 26 June to hold further discussions about taking forward housing co-ops in Scotland. The report includes an 8-point plan to help deliver more housing co-ops in Scotland. Its recommendations to the Scottish Government include:
- Funding a three-year pilot programme to aid the development of more housing co-ops in the social and private rental sectors;
- Guaranteeing support for social housing co-ops to undertake urgent safety improvements post-Grenfell;
- Helping non-registered housing co-ops expand, by granting a carefully targeted relief from Land and Buildings Transaction Tax on additional property purchases made by fully mutual housing co-ops;