Speaking at the recent Scottish Homes Conference, `Wider Action Through Partnership', Lord Sewel said:
'Active citizenship is at the heart of our policy programme and we recognise that an inclusive society cannot be imposed from on high. The government believes that a decent, secure home is essential to the well being of every household in Scotland and that such housing can give people a greater feeling of pride in their own communities. We also recognise that the homes and neighbourhoods in which people live can be quite closely linked to their health, education and employment prospects.
'The government's aim is to provide affordable housing built to high standards of quality and design, which is energy efficient, and integrates and regenerates communities rather than divides them. We have supported these aims since coming to office not only through the decisions we have made but also in the considerable additional resources we have allocated for housing.
Lord Sewel explained that the government has already committed over£2bn to initiatives aimed at promoting social inclusion.
'Since coming into office the government has put in place a comprehensive programme of action to provide opportunities to participate in society through work and learning, to regenerate deprived communities, to improve housing and to help children and young people gain the skills and abilities which will protect them from social exclusion as adults.
Lord Sewel praised the voluntary housing movement in Scotland which he believed had contributed directly to several of the government's most important new policies in housing and community regeneration including New Housing Partnerships.
'You have also made a significant contribution to the principle of working in partnership to make the best use of available resources. You have shown how the attraction of private funding does not mean privatisation, and I know that your experiences will be invaluable as we take forward our housing policies in the future,' he said.