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“Only long term growth in new-build affordable and social housing… can stabilise Scotland’s housing market…”

What Graeme Brown of Shelter means by this (Letters, 22 March), in terms of council house schemes, is open to 
challenge.

Here in Midlothian, for all the usual well-meaning reasons, a programme of a thousand new council houses has been undertaken. Far from reducing waiting lists, my information is that they have more than trebled.

No doubt there is a mixture of causes but the desirability – for life – of a nice new house at a third of market rents suggests that subsidy seeking is a phenomenon at work, human 
nature being as it is.

Many, if not most, people on the allocation lists do not actually “languish” homeless or on the streets, but are naturally seeking better accommodation than they currently have.

It is much more likely that the root cause of the problem is our archaic 1947 planning laws, which are making land for new-build too expensive.

The tendency of the issuers 
of planning permissions for owner-occupier schemes to require, as a condition, major payments to councils for pet projects is another factor.

Social housing solutions which require a huge expansion of public debt for a relatively few lucky council house tenants place enormous financial burdens on hard-pressed present and future taxpayers, whereas the fixing of these supply-side land bank issues would be far cheaper and more effective.

Peter Smaill

Borthwick

Midlothian