SNP accused of presiding over 'national housing crisis'

SNP ministers have been accused of presiding over a “national housing crisis” amid concerns over homelessness and a failure to hit housebuilding targets on time.

The Scottish Conservatives highlighted figures showing there are almost 47,000 homeless people in Scotland and 21,000 households in temporary accommodation.

Miles Briggs, the Tory housing spokesman, said he was particularly concerned that almost a third of homeless Scots and those on waiting lists are children, while other vulnerable groups, such as disabled people and service veterans, are badly affected by homelessness.

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He criticised the SNP’s failure to meet its target to build 50,000 affordable homes on time, as well as a £170 million cash cut in the 2023/24 housing budget.

Picture: Phil Wilkinson

During a debate in Holyrood today, Mr Briggs will call on housing secretary Shona Robison to acknowledge the scale of the problem by declaring a “housing emergency” – something the charity Shelter has called for. Shelter has said the “bottom line” is the absence of good quality, affordable social housing.

Mr Briggs said: “It’s no exaggeration to say the SNP Government is presiding over a national housing crisis. While much of the media attention lately has focused, understandably, on ministers’ abject failures in health and education, the housing emergency has gone under the radar. But it’s very real – and demands urgent Government action.

“It’s completely unacceptable that there are 47,000 people currently registered as homeless, and a third of a million Scots on social housing waiting lists, including close to 100,000 children and more than 24,000 disabled people.

“There are also more than 600 armed-service veterans registered as homeless, something which should embarrass us as a nation. The buck stops with Nicola Sturgeon’s Government for this crisis.”

He said the recent rent freeze and evictions ban “has been counter-productive and damaging for tenants – as we warned it would be – by reducing private rental stock and leading to housing developments being paused or shelved”.

Mr Briggs added: “It all adds up to a perfect storm – and it cannot be allowed to continue. Shona Robison should admit there’s a national housing emergency – as Shelter have described it – on the SNP’s watch and spell out how she intends to belatedly get a grip of it.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Scotland has led the way in delivering affordable housing across the UK and has some of the strongest homelessness legislation in the world. The number of households in temporary accommodation is too high and we are firmly committed to reducing it.

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"Local authorities are making encouraging progress with the implementation of their rapid rehousing transition plans, and the housing secretary has commissioned an action plan from experts in the sector to reduce the numbers of people and time spend in temporary accommodation.

“Our £752m 2023/24 budget will be supplemented by contributions from the Heat in Buildings Fund and Charitable Bond Programme donations directed towards investment in social rented homes. We remain committed to making over £3.5 billion available for affordable housing over the current parliamentary session as part of our ambitious plans to deliver 110,000 affordable homes by 2032.”



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