Wednesday’s budget put the housing crisis at the centre of the UK Government’s plan for economic recovery.
George Osborne’s Help to Buy scheme could be a welcome boost to our beleaguered housing market.
However, the devil, as ever with Budget statements, is in the detail. Time will tell if and how these schemes will operate in Scotland but before we rush to roll them out we should pause to check what the impact of increasing the availability or mortgages will be.
The Chancellor is right to identify that the greatest barrier for homebuyers is the high cost of deposits. However, simply injecting more cash into a housing market suffering from too few buyers for too few homes can only push prices up and put us back in danger of creating a housing bubble.
Instead, we should learn the lessons of the most recent housing crash in case we forget as recently as 2007/08, when greater access to mortgages failed to trickle down into a greater number of homes.
Since 2001, the number of people waiting for a social home has risen by 15 per cent. Only long-term growth in new- build affordable and social housing working in tandem with the promotion of responsible lending can stabilise Scotland’s housing market.
That way, instead of leaving 157,000 people to languish on waiting lists, we can create a Scotland where everyone has a home.
Graeme Brown, director, Shelter Scotland, Edinburgh
Find balance of the old and new
THE resurgence of our capital city is important for the future not only for Edinburgh but for Scotland too.
Every major city, like Edinburgh, has gone through the passage of time, developing and changing as they go along.
I support the planned shake-up for the city centre because it is the hub of an ever-changing, progressive city. But it is important to get the balance right between the historical parts of the city and the new.
Chas Dennis, Niddrie Marischal Road, Edinburgh
Socialists should stop complaining
The Greens rightly complain about the hypocrisy of the Labour Party in campaigning against the UK coalitions plans to combat under-occupancy in social housing.
After all, Labour were happy to see similar measures on Housing Benefit in the private rented sector. They are also unlikely to ever promise to reverse these much needed changes. It makes their campaigning look very hollow.
However, the real shame here is that the Greens and SNP are trying to generate a climate of fear over a measure that will only affect a very small proportion of households in the city. It is also a measure that brings equity between tenants in private rents with those in social housing – and the latter often have far lower rents.
You would think that the Greens in particular would want a much more efficient use of our social housing stock.
It would be far better if all these socialist parties stopped complaining about necessary measures to resolve the huge drain on the country’s finances from the benefits system. Maybe then they could get behind schemes to allow those with extra bedrooms to swap with the many other tenants who are overcrowded. The latter is a far greater social evil that left-wing policies have failed to solve over the years.
Cllr Iain Whyte, Conservative Finance Spokesman
Pulling together is what we need
The “Bedroom Tax” is a pernicious and badly thought through piece of legislation that could result in severe financial hardship and possible homelessness for those who are most vulnerable. It is going to be a particular problem in Edinburgh, not least because of the acute shortage of one bedroomed flats to let.
That is why I’m supporting local campaigns to stop the tax, and am bringing together a working group of politicians, officials and tenants’ representatives to challenge the principles behind this and support people through it.
The potential loss of rental income to the council and housing association landlords is considerable and could have a huge impact on our ability to invest in much needed improvements as well as building new affordable homes.
It does not reflect well on the Green Party to try to make party political points when we should be pulling together.
Cllr Cammy Day, Labour housing spokesperson