Scotland’s future is something that many of us contemplate at length, and often. But have we ever truly stopped to think about what Scotland might look like in 10, 20 or 50 years’ time? Or the stepping stones required to get us there?

Conversations around Scotland’s future often centre around the vast opportunities of renewable energy, tackling systemic socio-economic challenges or, indeed, the constitutional settlement.

Not enough thought, however, is given to what the people of Scotland need to thrive, or sometimes simply to survive.

Scotland’s homes are the foundation for all that we want to achieve through our National Outcomes. From education to health to the wellbeing economy, a thriving Scotland of the future needs homes of all tenures for people to live in and to flourish.

I can almost understand why policymakers don’t frame housing in this way. It is a policy area with pressing and immediate challenges, but also so many opportunities. Scotland is in the midst of an intensifying housing crisis with too many of our fellow citizens unable to find a home that meets their needs.

Despite this, in its recent budget, the Scottish Government cut investment in housing by one-third, generating even more doubt that it will reach its own target of building 110,000 new affordable homes by 2032, let alone achieve so many of the National Outcomes that are underpinned by having a quality home.

To address the housing crisis, we need first to fully comprehend the scale of the challenge we face. Yet current Scottish Government assessments of housing need only take into account those with the most acute level of housing need: overcrowded households that have at least one concealed family household and homeless households in temporary accommodation. Sadly, we know the housing crisis extends far beyond this measure with many more simply not being counted.

Analysis of the findings from an independent survey of over 13,000 people in Scotland puts this in sharp relief. Commissioned by ourselves, it shows c693,000 (28%) households are facing at least one type of housing need. This could be as a result of struggling to pay for housing; living in unfit conditions; or the requirement for specialist adaptations. Perhaps, they are one of the 373,000 individuals or groups in an existing household who want to move out to form their own household but can’t due to lack of supply.

Housing is a human right, but the stark reality is that hundreds of thousands of families and individuals are being ignored by the current measure of housing need.

How can we expect people to make a full and positive contribution to society in the decades to come if they don’t have a safe, secure and good quality home to use as a springboard for their success? Scotland is brimming with potential opportunities and talent, but our citizens, our communities and our country need a more inclusive approach to measuring housing need if these are to be recognised.

Jane Wood is Chief Executive of Homes for Scotland