12,000 new affordable homes a year needed, says Labour

Nicola Sturgeon has already pledged to up the Scottish Government's affordable housing target to 50,000 new homes if the SNP is re-elected to power at Holyrood next May. Picture: Contributed

Nicola Sturgeon has already pledged to up the Scottish Government's affordable housing target to 50,000 new homes if the SNP is re-elected to power at Holyrood next May. Picture: Contributed

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A MINIMUM of 12,000 affordable new homes need to be built each year to tackle Scotland’s “housing crisis”, a leading Labour MSP said.

Ken Macintosh, the party’s housing spokesman, said that figure - which would result in 60,000 affordable properties being built over the five years of the next Holyrood term - should not be the target but the “baseline”.

Housebuilding in Scotland is at its lowest level since 1947, families starting out can’t begin to afford a home of their own”

KEN MACINTOSH

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has already pledged to up the Scottish Government’s affordable housing target to 50,000 new homes if the SNP is re-elected to power at Holyrood next May.

But Mr Macintosh, Labour’s communities spokesman, hit out at the nationalists’ record.

He told the Scottish Labour Party conference in Perth: “The SNP have been in power for eight-and-a-half years and in that time they have allowed a housing shortage to become a housing crisis.

“Housing is an entirely devolved area, and the SNP took a series of specific decisions in their budget to cut housing finance.

“Housebuilding in Scotland is at its lowest level since 1947, families starting out can’t begin to afford a home of their own, thousands of them are waiting for a council or housing association property that simply isn’t there.”

He said research by housing charity Shelter, together with the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) and the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) had identified that 12,000 affordable new homes each year have to be built.

But the Eastwood MSP demanded: “That shouldn’t be the target, that should be our baseline. And 10% of these homes should be fully accessible to all.”

He told how “Scotland’s housing crisis affects every age group, from the young who have no chance of getting a home of their own, to the old living alone in cold, damp, unsuitable accommodation”.

Mr Macintosh said: “These are anxious times for the people of Scotland, tens of thousands of Scots can’t afford or find a decent home, they’re in accommodation that doesn’t meet their needs, they’re struggling to pay their bills.”

Former auditor general for Scotland, Robert Black, was tasked by Shelter to lead a commission looking at the problems in the housing sector.

He told the conference: “The commission quickly came to the view that for many people living in our country we should indeed be talking about a housing crisis, there is a housing crisis for very large numbers in the Scottish community.”

The former public spending watchdog told how the housing sector is facing “some really serious and challenging issues in Scotland and these are going to be with us over the next decade” as he called for these to “take centre stage” in next year’s Holyrood elections.

He said: “There are over 150,000 households on waiting lists, 940,000 households in fuel poverty, some 76,000 are overcrowded, and over 28,000 households are assessed as homeless and nearly half of all our social housing still falls short of the minimum housing standard.

“What’s more, the average house price now costs five times the average income paid, and that is putting owner-occupation beyond the reach of many people in Scotland, especially young families.

“Much more needs to be done to ensure everyone in Scotland has a decent place they can call their home.”

The provision of 12,000 affordable homes a year “would certainly be a major step change in affordable housing supply”, he added.

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