Children missing school as housing crisis 'at breaking point' 

A new report estimates it will take at least a decade to fix 'chronic' housing shortages across the country.

Social housing in the north of Scotland is at “breaking point”, according to a council chief in the Highlands.

A report compiled by the 32 Scottish councils has found an acute shortage of properties.

The crisis is catalogued in the Solace Report, which stands for the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives.

Almost a quarter of councils failed to meet statutory accommodation targets over the last financial year.

They calculate that at least 125,000 homes are needed to meet demand.

Almost 250,000 people are on a waiting list for social housing while fewer than 20,000 so-called “affordable homes” were delivered in 2022-23.

Francesca Albanese of the charity Crisis said: “We’ve worked with families where children have had to miss school because of the location of that temporary accommodation.

“It’s really difficult for them to regularly attend school and obviously that has an impact on a child’s education. It has a real impact on family life.”

Scotland’s housing minister Paul McLennan said: “We are working very closely with stakeholders to drive the figures down, building more houses as we need to do.

“I think another important context is that we built 40% more social housing in Scotland than England, per head of population – and 70% more than Wales.”

As part of its armoury to tackle the shortage, Highland Council introduced a system to control short-term property letting, in an effort to redress the balance – which is tricky in a region whose lifeblood is tourism.

The authority’s convener Bill Lobban said: “Right across Highland but especially in Badenoch and Strathspey, the problem is chronic and the system is at breaking point and we just can’t find houses to house local workers in.”

Highland was an early pioneer of a rule imposing a 25% minimum quota of “affordable” properties in every new housing development.

Mr Lobban said that figure was expected to rise to 75% within the Cairngorms National Park.

The Solace report calls for a fundamental review of social housing provision and reckons it will take at least a decade to transform the system.

STV News sought statistics from councils across the north, however not all responded.

There are currently 6,427 applicants on the housing list in Highland. The figure for Western Isles Council is 548. Shetland currently has a waiting list of 715.

The list in Aberdeenshire is 4,954 and in Aberdeen City, 6,186.

Angus has almost 5,000 people with “live applications” on its housing register, with 1,340 of those registered with a housing priority.

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