3SC Chair’s Blog: Two-Speed Universe

3SC Chair’s Blog: Update on 3SC

At last the sunshine has arrived and I’ve noticed that people on the streets are more relaxed, and even smiling. It’s a welcome relief after what seems like months of gloomy weather.

Here at 3SC we are also relaxing into our new offices, our new website, and are looking forward to publishing our first Position Paper, on public sector contracting to be formally launched at our House of Commons event on May 22nd 2018.

We are continuing our membership drive, not just because we want to get bigger – for us, there’s no special kudos attached simply to being big.

Our rationale for enlarging our network is to have more muscle to push forward our agenda for change that benefits the common interests of society – better education, better affordable housing, better safety on the streets, a better deal for the unemployed and the disabled.

On the issue of affordable housing the gulf between income and affordability is truly staggering. This is a serious social problem that affects more or less everywhere. I read this week that to buy a property in Cambridge, for example, now takes more than 10 times the average salary. Cambridge is not just a centre of international academic excellence; it’s also one of the UK’s technical and scientific hot-spots. How are these new (and old) centres of excellence going to attract and retain the brightest if it’s impossible to afford a home?

The Labour Party has just published a Green Paper on affordable housing which in essence promises to link the definition of affordability to a person’s income. The housing-affordability problem isn’t going to be settled in a hurry and we can expect the debate on what to do and how to fix it to intensify. I don’t pretend to have any easy solutions. But one thing is sure: the wide gap between what people earn and what they can afford to buy is socially extremely damaging, and needs to change if we are to repair some of the divisions in our society.

John Swinney, Chair