Edinburgh declares housing emergency amid homelessness crisis

A motion was tabled on Thursday in an effort to set up an emergency action plan amid a record high number of homeless families.

Edinburgh council declares housing emergency amid homelessness crisis Edwin Remsberg via Getty Images

Edinburgh has officially declared a housing emergency, becoming the first city in Scotland to do so.

The city council’s housing convener Jane Meagher tabled a motion on Thursday in an effort to set up an emergency action plan and seek urgent funding from the Scottish Government to help meet “severe challenges”.

The motion highlighted the city’s record homelessness figures along with a severe shortage of social rented homes and spiralling private rental costs.

Figures showed approximately 5,000 households in the capital are in temporary accommodation – the highest number in Scotland.

There is a “severe shortage” of social rented homes, with around 200 bids for each advertised property and additional demand for accessible and family homes.

Edinburgh also has the highest rental inflation rate in the UK at 13.7%.

Councillors will now write to the First Minister and to housing minister Paul McLennan, asking for additional funding.

Edinburgh is now the first city in Scotland to officially announce a housing emergency, however, in June, Argyll and Bute Council declared a housing emergency citing a rise in homelessness post-pandemic and an increasing lack of choice.

Scottish Conservative shadow housing secretary Miles Briggs MSP described the situation as “desperate” and said the SNP-Green government need to “wake up”.

He said: “This declaration by Edinburgh City Council must be an urgent wake-up call for the SNP-Green government.

“Homelessness is spiralling out of control on their watch and it is shocking that a record number of children are now stuck in temporary accommodation.

“It should never have reached a point where councillors in the capital are having to declare a housing emergency. I have repeatedly urged SNP-Green ministers to do this, which speaks volumes for their total inaction.

“Patrick Harvie’s big idea to solve this crisis – supported by SNP and Labour MSPs – was to impose a rent cap on the market. As I and others warned, this has made matters worse in the housing market, at a time when we are facing a homelessness crisis and many people cannot even get on the property ladder.

“The time for warm words from SNP-Green ministers must end. This statement from councillors fully exposes how desperate the situation is for so many people in Edinburgh – as it is across Scotland – thanks to the failures of the nationalist government.”

The Scottish Government has been contacted for comment.

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