FORECAST HOUSING NEEDS FOR OLDER PEOPLE
Q. There is a data gap in terms of being able to forecast the housing needs of older disabled people. This is problematic because the Housing Needs and Demand Assessment Guidance require Local Authorities and others to consider future housing need and demand, not just the current level. Are such forecasts possible?
A. Forecasts of the housing needs of older disabled people are not currently undertaken centrally by Scottish Government. In general, but not in all cases, forecasts are not widely produced by Scottish Government. However, we can provide advice on how to undertake and produce forecasts to help local authorities produce these if they wish to do so.
Q. Can you provide further guidance on the links that should be made between people in fuel poverty and housing unsuitability?
A. Being fuel poor does not necessarily mean that a household is in housing need.
There are three main factors that influence the level of fuel poverty; fuel prices, household incomes and the energy efficiency of the housing stock. The relationship between the three is a dynamic one and households can move into, or out of fuel poverty at different times and for a variety of different reasons. For example, a person who stops work temporarily to undertake a course of study may move into fuel poverty and then move back out of fuel poverty on their return to employment, while a household may be brought into fuel poverty when fuel prices rise, but leave fuel poverty when these fall. As a result, Partnerships cannot simply add the number of fuel poor households to their backlog need estimates.
In practice, housing factors which impact on fuel poverty will, in some cases, also impact on assessments of affordable housing need. For example, people living in housing with very poor energy efficiency who cannot afford to sustain this and whose need cannot be met in other ways (for example, grant to improve insulation or upgrade central heating) will, in all likelihood, form part of the backlog group. The precise impact will depend on the definition of poor quality housing selected by the Partnership. Local authorities are reminded that they will require to outline their key approaches to addressing fuel poverty in the Local Housing Strategy.
Q. Can you provide data sources for identifying fuel poor households?
A. Local House Condition Surveys are likely to be the only means of identifying individual fuel poor households.
Information on the number of households in fuel poverty by local authority, 2004-2007 was recently published on the Scottish House Condition Survey website.
The Guidance to Local Authorities on Fuel Poverty contains further information on national and local authority data on fuel poverty.
Q. Can you clarify how we should be measuring future demand?
A. This section of the Housing Need and Demand Assessment Guidance (2008) requires Partnerships to stand back from the detailed needs assessment for the current year and consider longer term trends and implications. In particular, it should act as a commonsense test of the implications of following through on the assessment for the current year.
The key questions that Partnerships should consider are:
- What does the assessment of current imbalance in need/supply for those who can/cannot afford to buy imply for the longer term?
- Under what circumstances would current plans lead to too few/too many affordable/ market houses being built?
- How likely is this to happen?
- How can planning and information systems be managed to ensure reasonable balance against likely need?