Scotland is facing its biggest housing crisis since the end of the Second World War with a shortfall of 160,000 homes in the coming decades, MSPs were warned yesterday.
Ministers were told that large numbers of Scots are “languishing on housing waiting lists” as opposition parties claimed that the number of new property builds was failing to meet a surge in demand for homes.
Shadow housing minister Mary Fee claimed Scotland was at risk of the worst housing shortages since 1945, when governments were forced to pursue unprecedented building programmes after large parts of UK cities were destroyed during bombing raids.
The Labour MSP said there were 14,781 council and housing association homes built in Scotland in 2013.
She said this was the lowest “since 1947”, when 12,149 public sector properties were completed.
The housing shortage was later alleviated with a mass building programme in the 1950s and 1960s, particularly with the construction of new towns of Cumbernauld, Glenrothes, Livingston, East Kilbride and Irvine.
Ms Fee warned “if the current reduction continues, it will result in a shortfall of 160,000 homes by 2035”, in a Holyrood amendment to an SNP motion praising the government’s housing record.
The warning came as it emerged that more than 10,000 Scottish households are in temporary accomodation, including large numbers of families with children forced to live in bed and breakfast establishments.
Housing minister Margaret Burgess said the SNP government had “outperformed the record of previous Scottish administrations” in delivering new house building programmes.
She said: “Since 2011 we have delivered more than 21,000 affordable homes, over two-thirds of the way towards our five-year target of 30,000 affordable homes.
“Since 2009, with the help of Scottish Government funding, over 4,000 new council houses have been delivered, after the last Scottish Labour-Liberal administration which built just six council houses in the four years to March 2007.”
However, during the Holyrood debate Ms Fee claimed that the SNP had cut the budget for affordable homes and had also presided over a sharp increase in rental prices during its seven-and-a-half years in power.
She said the budget for affordable housing was 25 per cent less than it was in 2008-9.
She said: “Scotland is facing a housing crisis whether the SNP want to hear it or not.
“Housebuilding across all sectors remains at record low levels. While the SNP celebrates a 5 per cent increase in new house completions in 2013-14, reality shows that new housing supply is 42 per cent less than before the recession.
“The share of private rent has increased over the last decade and we know that private renters now spend 23 per cent of their income compared to 13 per cent a decade ago.”