Scotland’s housing emergency is a disgrace, but a crisis shared across the UK - Alexander Brown

The Scottish Government is not alone in failing on housing, but that doesn’t make it OK

The Scottish Government has pledged to fix the housing crisis, after five local authorities declared emergencies in recent months following extensive cuts to their budgets.

With the SNP having already slashed the housing budget by £200 million, before he resigned, Humza Yousaf announced an £80m increase over the next two years to fix the problem. Unfortunately, this is akin to improving the stables after you’ve shot the horse.

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There will be no easy fix to this. SNP ministers aren’t even using emergency powers, it’s just a bit more money that’s still a lot less. Having cut housing to the bone, the party has offered a sticking plaster.

The Scottish Government has declared a housing emergency. Image: Victoria Jones/Press AssociationThe Scottish Government has declared a housing emergency. Image: Victoria Jones/Press Association
The Scottish Government has declared a housing emergency. Image: Victoria Jones/Press Association

This is not just another policy where the party can announce something to feel good about itself, it’s a real issue impacting the lives of Scots who can see little hope in what’s being done.

According to Shelter Scotland, more than 15,000 households are living in temporary accommodation, as of September last year. That’s not just a number, that is families without security or stability, who have been left behind. To make matters worse, every 16 minutes a household becomes homeless, according to Shelter. These are people among us and it’s happening every day.

It comes with rising rent prices, a cost-of-living crisis and an approach to building new homes that is a disgrace.

Social justice secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville has sought to pin the blame on Westminster and invited other parties to offer ideas beyond “spending more money”. But therein lies the rub – the housing crisis is an issue that can only be solved with money.

It does not need words, it doesn’t call for the magic ideal of independence. It calls for investment and it demands housing. Building houses. Making housing more affordable. Then building even more houses.

Owning a home, hell even renting a home, should not be a possibility alien to younger generations or those worse off, yet it remains just that. Landlords get away with putting rent increases into contracts. They continue to charge extortionate rates for terrible properties because everyone needs a house and there aren’t enough of them.

This is not complicated stuff, yet for the longest time, the Scottish Parliament, as well as Westminster, have had their head buried in the sand on this, hopeful that talking about Scotland’s values or a global Britain would somehow fix those being abandoned at home.

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It is this that has seen the UK develop the worst homeless rate in the developed world, in a state so insane I had to check it twice, being even worse than America. America! They have to pay for healthcare! What are we doing!

This total disinterest in a crisis everyone has know about has seen the number of English households living in temporary accommodation more than double between 2010 and 2023 from 48,000 to 112,000, the highest figure since records began.

Scotland is not alone in having a housing crisis and it’s great that shortly before Labour threaten to boot them out that the SNP are promising to do something. But if it’s not building homes or making them more affordable, it will be yet another policy where communication was more important than delivery.



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