Labour to make second attempt to declare national housing emergency in Scotland

derelict houses
Scotland is facing a housing crisis while 93,000 properties lie vacant -Credit:Ross Turpie / Daily Record

Scottish Labour is making a second attempt to declare a national housing emergency later this week.

The party will use debating time on Wednesday to push the Scottish Government to acknowledge the extent of the housing crisis.

Several local authorities have already declared a housing emergency. These include Glasgow and Edinburgh, which are the biggest councils in the country.

This comes as homelessness figures are at a record high and accommodation is in short supply.

The then SNP-Green Government cut the housing budget by nearly £200 million - some 26 per cent - in December.

But Humza Yousaf pledged an extra £80m for housing in the same week he booted the Greens from Government.

Labour has urged the Greens to back its motion. They had blocked the previous attempt when they were in Government.

If opposition parties back the motion it will be the first vote that John Swinney has lost since becoming First Minister.

Labour housing spokesman Mark Griffin said there was “no doubt” Scotland was “in the grips of a housing emergency”.

He said: “From soaring rents to record homelessness to extortionate mortgages, there is no doubt that Scotland is in the grips of a housing emergency.

“The SNP government has not only ignored this crisis but actively fanned its flames with its brutal cuts to the housing budget.

“Tackling this housing emergency is key to dealing with the cost of living crisis and driving down poverty – the SNP cannot remain in denial about the scale of this emergency.

“The Greens have an opportunity to hold the SNP government to account for a litany of failures on housing, including plans to tear up the Bute House Agreement affordable housing pledge.

“I urge all parties to stand up for struggling Scots and back this motion acknowledging the housing emergency Scotland faces so we can develop a real plan to fix it.”

The Lib Dems and Tories have said they agree there is a housing emergency in Scotland

Homelessness is currently at a record high in Scotland with almost 10,000 children stuck in temporary accommodation. Some 30,000 people overall are classed as being homeless.

Central Scotland Labour MSP Mark Griffin
Central Scotland Labour MSP Mark Griffin -Credit:WSH]

Rents are rising at record rates while mortgages remain stubbornly high after Liz Truss’ disastrous mini-budget.

The number of affordable new homes being approved and started have hit a 10-year low and the Scottish Government’s affordable housebuilding target is under threat.

The Labour motion follows longstanding calls from Shelter to declare a national housing emergency.

A property and construction consultancy has warned that Scotland’s affordable housing sector is facing its most challenging period in 40 years.

Michael Creech from Hardies Property & Construction Consultants said the cuts to the housing budget resulted in a 91 per cent increase to the cost of building an affordable home.

He said: “The affordable housing sector has always had challenges to overcome, but this is the most difficult period we have experienced in four decades.

“While we still have a huge portfolio of affordable housing work across our business, new build housing projects in particular are proving difficult to finalise and in turn get construction underway on site within the timescales anticipated at the outset. Project lead-in periods are simply growing longer.

“We have had to contend with funding cuts to the affordable housing programmes across each local authority, spiralling inflation and construction costs, increased energy standards and zero carbon technologies as well as meeting affordable housing affordability criteria.”

The Daily Record has been at the forefront of exposing Scotland's housing crisis.

Just last week we reported that charities and anti-poverty groups have urged Swinney to U-turn on the Government's damaging housing cuts.

STUC General Secretary Roz Foyer said: “Scotland is in the grip of a housing emergency which is wreaking havoc on the life chances of workers throughout the country."

Shelter Scotland Director, Alison Watson, said housing should have a seat in the cabinet rather than being a junior ministerial role.

The Record also reported on the full extent of the housing and homelessness crisis in March, revealing that a staggering 93,000 homes are lying empty across Scotland.

These are valued at a huge £18billion all together.

In February the Record revealed that Scotland is experiencing a "chronic undersupply" of homes.

A survey by pollsters Survation found 74 per cent of Scots agree the country is currently experiencing a housing crisis.

Finance Secretary Shona Robison announced in December that the total spend on housing would fall by more than £200m for the current financial year.

The total amount spent went down from £738.3m in 2023-24 to £533.2m in 2024-25.

The biggest cut was in housebuilding, with a drop of nearly £190m in funding.

The money available for building more homes went from £564.6m in 2023-24 to £375.8m in 2024-25.

Funds for fuel poverty and housing quality budgets were also drastically cut, from £21.8m to £1.7m.

It came just one week after the Record reported how thousands of families were preparing to spend Christmas in temporary accommodation.

Figures from late last year showed that parents with children who declare themselves homeless in some parts of the country are facing a wait of more than a year before a permanent residence is found for them.

In Edinburgh, the average wait for families is 611 days - the highest in Scotland - while those in Glasgow wait 381 days.

Housing Minister Paul McLennan said: "Scotland has led the UK in housing by delivering more than 128,000 affordable homes since 2007. We are investing nearly £600 million in affordable housing this financial year, the majority of which will be for social rent.

"The UK Government failed to inflation-proof their capital budget, and this has resulted in nearly a 10% real terms cut in our UK capital funding between 2023-24 and 2027-28. Likewise our financial transactions budget - key to delivering affordable housing - has been cut by 62%.

"We remain focused on delivering 110,000 affordable homes by 2032 and, to support that, we have brought forward the review scheduled for 2026-27 to 2024, which will concentrate on deliverability.

"We are also working with the financial community in Scotland, and elsewhere, to boost private sector investment and help deliver more homes."

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