The amount of social rented housing in Scotland has declined to its lowest level in 50 years and is still shrinking; but the need for such housing has never gone away and since the financial crisis, it has been increasing. Across the country, there are growing numbers of households in insecure private tenancies, long waiting lists for social housing and people stuck in temporary accommodation. The need for more and better social housing has now been acknowledged by the Scottish Government, but this paper argues that, after 30 years of pro-market politics, a bias against social housing has become built into the system, and that we will not see real investment in social housing until the current policy framework is dismantled. The paper concentrates on the important, but often neglected, subject of refurbishing existing social housing. It uses examples from the author's research in Dundee to show the forces driving programmes of mass demolition and the impact of existing policies; and it suggests how policies could be changed in order to provide a relatively quick, economical, and also socially and ecologically sustainable solution to many social housing needs.
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