Housing and Inclusive Growth: Revitalising Connections


In partnership with the UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence, Policy Scotland will be holding the second annual Scottish Housing Policy Conference on Wednesday 24 April at the COSLA Conference Centre in Edinburgh.

Logo for CaCHE, the UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence In this blog, Professor Duncan Maclennan introduces the theme for the 2019 conference.

“The inaugural Scottish Housing Policy Conference, which took place in June 2018, focused on the ‘new’ private rented sector in Scotland. This was an opportunity to make sense of the myriad of changes underway from within and outside of Scotland. Looking ahead to 2019, we’ll be focusing on the theme of ‘Housing and Inclusive Growth: Revitalising Connections’.

Housing sits at the core of the economic and social lives of households, it reflects and shapes their household activity patterns and the cities and neighbourhoods in which they live and work. Housing always has complex, recursive relationships between growth and inclusion and place always has a mediating role in these relationships. The Scottish Government have maintained a strong commitment to delivering substantial programmes of affordable housing. They have also strongly embraced the notion of ‘inclusive growth’ and it is one of their central policy narratives. Surprisingly there has been little reflection of the connections between housing and inclusive growth in the Scottish policy debate. This conference seeks to restore housing to the centre of inclusion policy debate and, importantly, delivery by presenting both fresh research insights and reflections on past, successful Scottish policy.

Recent government approaches to ‘inclusive growth’ across the OECD countries have been ‘top-down’, in that they remind economic policymakers that economic growth choices have consequences for the distribution of income, wealth and wellbeing across income and age groups and different kinds of places. Much of the policy discussion has focussed on skills and employment. However, in a number of countries, not least Scotland, these top-down policy measures are intruding into more local government and community landscapes where there has, for almost a quarter of a century been an active commitment to raise inclusion and participation within housing, and related activities. It can be argued that these bottom-up, neighbourhood-based efforts were not sufficiently connected to wider economic development strategies and processes. Equally, that new top-down approaches, fail to connect with community interests and energies and capabilities.

The conference will address two key themes that shape the inclusiveness of Scottish housing outcomes. First, at the broader housing policy level, we consider whether the broad structure of tax and other supports for housing has essentially exacerbated inequalities in income and wealth, and particularly driven wealth inequalities, and what directions policy might take to make outcomes fairer and inclusive. Second, the best ways in which to deliver affordable housing outcomes so that they enhance inclusion within and across communities and align bottom-up community energies with top-down support for economic change.

I will be delivering the opening keynote address, during which I will lay out these issues in more detail. This will be followed by speakers from policy, non-profit and local government perspectives, who will each focus on what has been, and is being, done in the housing sector to help deliver inclusive growth, as well as the challenges to delivery. There will be ample opportunity for participation and in-depth discussion during parallel breakout sessions and we will end the day by looking specifically at policy implications and real-world solutions to the challenges of delivering inclusive growth in housing.

Last year’s conference was well-attended and sold out fast, and we anticipate the same level of interest this year; so, make sure you reserve your place now. If you have any questions, contact CaCHE Knowledge Exchange Associate, Dr Gareth James. We look forward to seeing you in April.”

Professor Duncan Maclennan is Professor of Public Policy for Policy Scotland at the University of Glasgow, Professor of Strategic Urban Management and Finance at the University of St Andrews and a Professorial Research Fellow in Urban Economics at the University of New South Wales, Sydney.

Other speakers will include:

  • Martyn Evans (Executive Chair, The Alex Ferry Foundation)
  • Uzma Khan (Deputy Director Economic Strategy, Scottish Government)
  • Sarah Boyack (Head of Public Affairs, SFHA)
  • Joyce White (Housing & Equalities Portfolio Lead, Glasgow City Region Deal & Chief Executive, West Dunbartonshire Council)
  • Lorna Wilson (Innovation and Future Thinking Lead, SFHA)
  • Stephen Boyle (Head of the Analytical Unit, Scottish Government) – to be confirmed
  • Professor Ken Gibb (Director, CaCHE)
  • Thomas Aubrey (Advisor, Centre for Progressive Policy)
  • Des McNulty (Deputy Director, Policy Scotland)

See the full programme and book your free place

#SHPC2019