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November 19, 2008

Sturgeon’s housing policy questioned

Some of the most successful community anchor organisations in Scotland are locally owned housing associations – yet SNP housing policy seems set to diminish their effectiveness. Dr Madhu Satsangi of Stirling University believes that the current Scottish Govt preference for the large scale national Housing Associations is based on flawed evidence

Dr Madhu Satsangi, Department of Applied Social Science, University of Stirling

Can I offer a comment on the apparent contradiction you note in Nicola Sturgeon’s speech and the direction of HA funding?

Thanks to the Brown/Darling ‘settlement’ of the Scottish budget 2008-11, the name of the game in HA funding is efficiency, hang community development. And funding decisions have been based on acceptance of ‘research’ from south of the border which purports to show that bigger organisations are necessarily more efficient than smaller ones.

In fact, despite the English Government and its agencies’ numerous attempts to prove this, there is no convincing relationship. Work that Ken Gibb and Tony O’Sullivan did for SFHA shows, as does work that I and colleagues did for the previous Executive, that much more depends on circumstance. You quite rightly say that views need to be challenged: so does the ‘evidence’ behind those views.

I hang on to the hope that SNP ministers don’t want to sacrifice one of the most effective approaches to community development Europe has seen in the past 30 years, rather that they have been misled and their hands tied.

If you’ve got the time, have a look at this document and this one