Government should not be within ‘ivory tower in Edinburgh’ – Yousaf

The Scottish Government must not be seen as sitting within an “ivory tower in Edinburgh”, Humza Yousaf has said, as he pledged to invest in rural housing.

The SNP leadership contender said he would commit £25 million to turning empty homes into new housing for people in rural Scotland.

On Monday, he and Mairi McAllan – a Scottish Government minister who is one of his supporters – visited the Clydesdale Housing Association where they saw buildings which have been refurbished into new homes.

He told the PA news agency: “If I’m first minister I’m pledging £25 million to bring empty properties back into the social rented sector.

“I’m also wanting to give local authorities the power to increase council tax on second homes.”

He continued: “We have to ensure that, whoever is the first minister – I hope it’s me – that we aren’t viewed as a government that sits in our ivory tower in Edinburgh.

“We’ve got to make sure that we are out there helping rural Scotland as much as we possibly can.”

Humza Yousaf during his visit to the Clydesdale Housing Association with Mairi McAllan
Humza Yousaf during his visit to the Clydesdale Housing Association with Mairi McAllan (Jane Barlow/PA)

Among other pledges for rural communities, Mr Yousaf said he will boost community ownership of renewable energy and help properties with alternatives to expensive off-grid fuel.

He said: “My plans are a win-win for Scotland’s rural communities – backing business, boosting investment, creating jobs and tackling labour shortages.

“The Labour-enabled Brexit, that Scotland overwhelmingly did not vote for, has hit our rural communities especially hard – creating a black hole for funding and workers.

“We know agriculture, tourism and hospitality businesses are often suffering the most.”