A FUTURE Labour government in Scotland would make housing a priority again and build up to 30,000 new homes a year, party leadership contender Ken Macintosh has pledged.
Mr Macintosh vowed that under his leadership, Labour would support investment in affordable housing “on a scale never seen under devolution”.
The Eastwood MSP is hoping to succeed Jim Murphy, who quit the role after his party suffered a disastrous defeat in the general election.
Lothians MSP Kezia Dugdale is the favourite for the job, with Mr Macintosh challenging her to match his commitment on housebuilding.
He vowed that if he became first minister, Labour would aim to build 30,000 homes a year, with half either council or housing association properties.
Mr Macintosh also promised at least 10% of the houses would be “fully accessible” for disabled people.
He outlined his proposals as he visited Parkhead Housing Association in Glasgow with Labour housing spokesman Michael McMahon.
Mr Macintosh said: “I want everyone in Scotland to have the comfort and assurance of a safe, secure and warm home.
“It’s not an impossible dream and under my leadership, Labour would use the powers in the Scottish Parliament to make it happen.
“We will strike a bold new approach to housing in Scotland, building tens of thousands of homes, securing a sustainable future for the next generation, boosting the economy, reducing poverty and improving health.
“At the moment, too many Scots cannot afford to buy a house or a flat of their own and home ownership has fallen to its lowest level in decades.
“Young people in particular are having to choose between staying with their parents for longer or being forced into expensive private rents.
“Even more worrying are the levels of poverty and poor health being experienced by individuals and families living in inadequate accommodation.”
He said the answer to these problems “lies in building more homes - tens of thousands of them”.
He said the Government is currently “going in the wrong direction”, adding: “Housebuilding which ran at an average of around 24,000 new homes per year in the first eight years of the Scottish Parliament has fallen to under 17,000 per year in the most recent eight years. We can reverse that.
“This is an entirely devolved area and the Scottish Parliament controls all the financial and legislative levers of power needed to make a difference.
“Under my leadership, Labour will make housing a priority again, aiming to build 30,000 homes a year, half of which will be for social rent and with at least 10% fully accessible for disabled people.
“We will not stop at housebuilding, we will intervene in the private rented sector both to end extortionate rent rises and to provide greater security of tenure.
“We will promote new and large scale private investment in this sector whilst also allowing local authorities to become letting agents.
“We will reshape our town centres, reclaiming empty shops and properties and turning them back into places where we live.”
He said this is part of his “manifesto for Scotland’s future”, and added: “I challenge anyone who wishes to lead our party or our country to match my plans to build the future Scotland.”