Political parties should work together and end housing crisis in Scotland

Scotland’s housing crisis is one of the most pressing issues in First Minister John Swinney’s in-tray. Homelessness is at record levels and thousands of children are living in temporary accommodation.

Young people are struggling to buy a home and are instead being forced into rip-off private lets. A substantial amount of their income is ending up in the pockets of landlords.

This nightmare was made worse by Humza Yousaf's inexplicable decision to slash £200m from the affordable housing budget. It made a mockery of his commitment to combating child poverty and fuelled the perception of chaos.

So it is to be welcomed that new FM John Swinney will today declare a national housing emergency. Some councils had already taken this step in their local areas, but Yousaf did not take it seriously enough.

It also shows that Swinney is determined to tackle the bread and butter issues facing Scots. The previous administration seemed to prioritise everything but deliver little.

The housing crisis, particularly given its link to poverty, needs the sort of attention only a focused government can bring. Critics will say that “housing emergency” will only ever be rhetoric unless bold action is not taken.

But the government knows what to do in this area. It needs to reverse the housing cuts, empower councils to slash homelessness and enable house builders to do their jobs.

The Holyrood parties should put their differences aside and unite to address this scourge.

Help our poorest

It is an outrage that foodbank use across the UK has hit a record high. That three million food parcels have been handed out in a year is an indictment of 14 years of Tory misrule.

Rishi Sunak may try to pretend that everything is OK because inflation is down. But the fact that there were thousands of first-time foodbank users in the last 12 months shows that things are not getting better for millions of families.

While the Tories in Westminster are the main problem, the SNP government in Edinburgh could also be doing more. New First Minister John Swinney has already spoken of his vision to eradicate child poverty.

He could make a start on this laudable aim by listening to The Trussell Trust’s calls to increase the Scottish Child Payment to £40 a week.

The benefit is one of the best policies which the SNP has introduced and directly helps families in need. But it has to be hiked up from its current rate of £26.70 to help the poorest in our society.

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