What’s age got to do with it?

Last week Shelter Scotland launched a campaign to ask the Housing Minister to rethink a proposal in the Housing (Scotland) Bill which would allow social landlords to discriminate based on age.

We, and a coalition of organisations working across Scotland – including Barnardo’s Scotland, The Poverty Alliance, Govan Law Centre and 8 others – have grave concerns about this proposal, which removes the current ban on taking age into account when allocating social housing.

Quite apart from the fact that this proposal wasn’t in the original consultation on social housing changes – it seems at odds with the tradition of progressive housing and homelessness legislation that we have come to expect from the Scottish Government.

Our #agefactor campaign, asks people to show support and sign up through the website www.shelterscotland.org/agefactor and to email the Housing Minister directly to say why this proposal is wrong.

In a previous blog, I responded to accusations from supporters of this regressive idea that Shelter Scotland and others didn’t ‘trust’ landlords enough. And I would reiterate, that this isn’t about trust. I don’t believe that social landlords, on the whole, wish to discriminate if this proposal becomes law. I also know through off-the-record conversations, that many landlords have grave concerns themselves about the idea and the direction of travel it takes housing legislation in.

So I would say to supporters of the proposal – namely CIH Scotland, SFHA, Cosla and ALACHO, that the real question is: why put something into law that COULD allow discrimination.

Why take that risk?

it seems at odds with the tradition of progressive housing and homelessness legislation that we have come to expect from the Scottish Government.

If there is a housing management problem (and I’m not sure of what evidence is being touted to suggest there is?) – let’s all get together and fix that. Shelter Scotland wants common sense, sustainable lets and balanced communities as much as any housing provider.

But solutions need to be fair, transparent and effective. This is too blunt, too crude and too regressive for us to allow it to pass into law unchallenged.

Someone said to me over the weekend that this campaign was ‘unnecessary’ and honestly, I hope it is. But while an open door to age discrimination is on the face of the Bill, we have no choice but to fight against it.

Sign up to our campaign and tell the Housing Minister that age discrimination has no place in the Housing Bill.

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Fiona King

Fiona King

I’m Campaigns & Public Affairs Manager at Shelter Scotland and have been part of the team since 2010, previously having been a policy nerd. Our campaigning work takes me all over Scotland and beyond and I work closely with politicians and stakeholders across Scotland to get housing up the agenda. Outside the world of policy I like to eat and drink, ideally by the seaside and I am an office sweepstake enthusiast.