New report analyses the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on social landlords in Scotland


20 August 2021

The Social Housing Resilience Group (SHRG) today published a report on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on social landlords in Scotland.  Using data social landlords gave to the Scottish Housing Regulator each month during 2020/21, the report aims to help build as full a picture as possible of that impact, alongside information about the impact on social landlords across the UK.

As the country went into lockdown on the 23 March 2020, social landlords responded immediately to protect and support their tenants and communities, mobilising to ensure they could continue to deliver essential services.  The report highlights that the pandemic, and the public health measures to tackle it, impacted significantly on the social landlords, with increases in rent arrears, longer timescales for letting empty homes, and an increase in the number of people in temporary accommodation.  The report also found that rent increases halved in comparison to 2019-20.

Talking about the report, Sally Thomas, Chief Executive of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations and Chair of SHRG said:

“In March 2020, landlords moved quickly to protect their tenants and their communities, and we have seen a tremendous level of resilience in how they have navigated the pandemic. We are pleased to have worked with Scotland’s Housing Network and Housemark Scotland to produce this report, which will help social landlords and others make evidence-based decisions as they continue striving to provide good quality, affordable housing nationwide.”

The SHRG worked with Scotland’s Housing Network and Housemark Scotland to produce a review of the information from the monthly COVID-19 data returns from April 2020 to March 2021, with both organisations supplementing the data with the information they collected from their member landlords in Scotland and the UK. The report also uses information from the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations’ quarterly members’ survey.

Kirsty Wells, Head of Housemark Scotland added:

“One of the key challenges for social landlords as we emerge from the pandemic will be striking the right balance between making decisions now that enable them to move forward, whilst holding off on some that might have unintended consequences and be difficult to reverse. Our analysis has shown that using data to drive evidence-based decisions and take appropriate action is driving sector resilience. Housemark Scotland is pleased to make this analysis from our UK membership available to the wider sector to help landlords make decisions that make a difference.”

Andrea Finkel-Gates, Chief Executive of Scotland’s Housing Network said:

“There can be no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has delivered the biggest global, universal shock in recent memory. We have seen that having the right data at the right time has been key to effective decision making throughout the crisis. We’re pleased to come together with our sector partners to help landlords understand the impact of the past 18 months and look towards the future.”

Read the report>

Notes to editors

About the Social Housing Resilience Group

The Social Housing Resilience Group (SHRG) was established in March 2020 to help social landlords to respond to the evolving and significant challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.  The SHRG brings together key stakeholders from social housing in Scotland to collaborate in providing guidance, advice and support to social landlords during the pandemic and the recovery out of the pandemic.  Throughout 2020/21 the Scottish Housing Regulator collected and reported monthly information from social landlords on behalf of the SHRG to help it monitor how the pandemic impacted on social landlords.  You can see the published dashboards and full data set on the SHR website.


About Housemark Scotland

Housemark is the leading data and insight company for the UK housing sector. We’re here to give you greater confidence to make decisions that make a difference – for your customers, for your people and for your business. We use our expertise, networks, sector specialists and data to make sure you always know where you stand – providing the evidence and inspiration you need to inform decisions that drive change. Providing unrivalled insight, comparisons, and data analysis, our easy-to-use data products and services are the most comprehensive on the market.


About Scotland’s Housing Network

Scotland’s Housing Network is a membership organisation working exclusively for the Scottish social housing sector.  We are Scotland’s largest provider of benchmarking, performance analysis and practice exchange services; supporting landlords in their journey for continuous improvement. SHN is member-led, we take time to know and understand our members and the context in which their business operates in.  We deliver tried and tested services that have been co-produced with our members to meet their needs.


About the report

The primary data used in this report to analyse the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Scottish social housing sector comes from the monthly data returns submitted to the Scottish Housing Regulator (SHR) by social landlords (local authorities and Registered Social Landlords). 

This primary data has been analysed by Scotland’s Housing Network (SHN) and is supplemented with secondary data collected monthly by Housemark from its members across the UK.  The quantitative and qualitative data provided by SHN and Housemark has also been supported by additional information supplied by the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) from their quarterly members’ survey.

The SHR data has been analysed at year-end position as at 31 March 2021.* 

The UK data has been supplied to track trends for the following periods:

The position at month end 31 March 2020

The position at month end 30 April 2020

The position at quarter end 30 June 2020

The position at quarter end 30 September 2020

The position at quarter end 31 December 2020

The position at quarter end 31 March 2021


Scottish Housing Regulator

Tracy Davren

Communications Manager

Scottish Housing Regulator


Scottish Federation of Housing Associations

Kirsten Walker

Communications Manager

*Please note that this analysis is based on corporate group structures e.g. Wheatley Group and Link Group.  Also, very small RSLs (under 500 units) are excluded to avoid unrepresentative percentages, particularly for maximum and minimum values.