Labour to make second attempt to declare housing emergency

The party will use its debating time on Wednesday to push the Government to acknowledge the extent of the crisis in housing across the country.

Labour to make second attempt to declare housing emergency in Scotland PA Media

Scottish Labour will this week make a second attempt to declare a housing emergency.

The party will use its debating time on Wednesday to push the Government to acknowledge the extent of the crisis in housing across the country.

A number of local authorities, including the two biggest in Glasgow and Edinburgh, have already made such a declaration in the face of increasing homelessness figures and a lack of supply.

The party has also urged the Scottish Greens to back the motion, after having voted against a similar attempt while the party was a partner in the Scottish Government.

The vote could be the first John Swinney faces losing since taking over the reins of the Scottish Government if the Greens and the rest of the opposition parties decide to back Labour.

But it is understood the SNP’s former coalition partners have not yet decided on how they will vote.

Speaking ahead of the debate, Labour housing spokesman Mark Griffin said there was “no doubt” Scotland was “in the grips of a housing emergency”.

“The SNP Government has not only ignored this crisis, but actively fanned its flames with its brutal cuts to the housing budget,” he said.

“Tackling this housing emergency is key to dealing with the cost-of-living crisis and driving down poverty – the SNP cannot remain in denial about the scale of this emergency.

“The Greens have an opportunity to hold the SNP Government to account for a litany of failures on housing, including plans to tear up the Bute House Agreement affordable housing pledge.

“I urge all parties to stand up for struggling Scots and back this motion acknowledging the housing emergency Scotland faces so we can develop a real plan to fix it.”

Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie said: “Housing is a right, and everybody should have a warm, safe and affordable place to call home.

“The levels of insecure housing and homelessness in Scotland are a moral disgrace.

“When the Scottish Greens were in government we introduced a groundbreaking emergency rent freeze and protections that went far beyond anything that has happened in any other part of the UK, and far further than anything that the Labour Party is proposing.

“We need to build on that progress with the Housing Bill that I introduced and that is working its way through Parliament.

“This will deliver the permanent rent controls that are so badly needed, as well as enhanced tenants’ rights, such as the right to decorate, keep a pet and make a house a home.

“These policies must not be scaled back or watered down. It is vital that we support households and families on the front line of this crisis.”

Scottish Lib Dem communities spokesman Willie Rennie said: “The SNP Government has refused to acknowledge the housing crisis.

“Ministers have taken an axe to the housing budget, presided over record high levels of homelessness and let the number of affordable housing approvals fall to its lowest level for more than a decade.

“Scottish Liberal Democrats want a major housebuilding programme to re-establish social renting as a long-term option and bring thousands of empty homes back into use.”

While Scottish Tory housing spokesman Miles Briggs said his party have “repeatedly” called for the declaration of a housing emergency and they agree “in principle” with the Labour push.

“Five local authorities have already been forced to declare a housing emergency thanks to 17 years of SNP failure and funding cuts,” he said.

“It is vital that this SNP Government finally offer their support to help our councils address this crisis as Scotland experiences record levels of homelessness.”

Housing Minister Paul McLennan said: “Scotland has led the UK in housing by delivering more than 128,000 affordable homes since 2007.

“We are investing nearly £600m in affordable housing this financial year, the majority of which will be for social rent.

“The UK Government failed to inflation-proof their capital budget, and this has resulted in nearly a 10% real terms cut in our UK capital funding between 2023-24 and 2027-28. Likewise our financial transactions budget – key to delivering affordable housing – has been cut by 62%.

“We remain focused on delivering 110,000 affordable homes by 2032 and, to support that, we have brought forward the review scheduled for 2026-27 to 2024, which will concentrate on deliverability.

“We are also working with the financial community in Scotland, and elsewhere, to boost private sector investment and help deliver more homes.”

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