Scottish election 2021: Tories pledge 40,000 new homes for social rent

The Scottish Conservatives would build 40,000 homes for social rent over the next Parliament if they are elected, party leader Douglas Ross has said.

Setting out the party’s housebuilding manifesto pledge, Mr Ross said he would set a target of 8,000 socially rented homes to be built each year.

He said the Conservatives would introduce a new Communities Bill to ensure new housing developments led to increased funding for roads and schools.

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The Scottish Parliament building. Picture: Jayne Wright

The coronavirus pandemic led to delays in the construction of new affordable homes, with Mr Ross saying the Scottish Government had missed its target.

The Scottish Conservative leader said: “The health crisis may soon be over, but the economic crisis is looming.

“We have to break ground quickly and start rebuilding Scotland right away to avoid a jobs catastrophe.

“We are setting bold targets for the next Scottish Parliament to launch the biggest social housing drive since devolution began and to restore the construction sector to the housebuilding levels we saw pre-SNP and pre-financial crash.

“It won’t be easy, but we need plans to rebuild Scotland that meet the scale of the economic challenge facing us.”

Mr Ross added: “Our proposals would forge a thriving construction sector, create tens of thousands of jobs and drive economic growth, so we can better support public services in the future.

“We have set more ambitious goals than the SNP, but if we have a Scottish Parliament 100 per cent focused on rebuilding Scotland, instead of one hell-bent on pursuing independence, our targets can be met.

“We only have to elect enough MSPs who are fixated on building up, not breaking up Scotland.”

Responding to the Conservatives’ policy, SNP candidate for Aberdeen Central, Kevin Stewart, said: “The Tories’ housing policy is dwarfed by the SNP’s record of delivery – and by our pledge to go even further.

“Since 2007, the SNP has delivered nearly 100,000 affordable homes – and we’re committed to ramping up our ambition by delivering a further 100,000 affordable homes over the next decade, with 70 per cent of those for social rent.

“This will support around £16 billion in total investment and up to 14,000 jobs a year – at the same time as tackling empty homes and poor housing, increasing energy efficiency and working to eradicate fuel poverty.”

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