Scottish Government to declare national housing emergency

Social justice secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville will announce the move at Holyrood.

Scottish Government to declare national housing emergency PA Media

The Scottish Government will declare a national housing emergency on Wednesday.

Social justice secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville will make the announcement during Labour’s debate on the crisis on Wednesday afternoon.

She will say the crisis is due to factors outside of the Scottish Government’s control, including a decade of UK austerity, soaring inflation, increased cost of living, and labour shortages down to Brexit.

Somerville called on the UK Government and councils to work together to tackle “one of the defining issues of a generation”.

She said too many people in Scotland are struggling to make ends meet due to housing costs – or struggling to find suitable housing at all.

“We will continue to do everything we can with the powers at our disposal to make progress – but truly tackling the housing emergency will rely on a joint approach between UK, Scottish and local government,” she said ahead of the announcement.

Five local authorities in Scotland have already declared housing emergencies in the face of increasing homelessness and a lack of supply.

Scotland in grip of a ‘housing emergency’, industry experts warn

At the start of May, West Dunbartonshire Council became the fifth to declare following similar moves within the past year by Argyll and Bute, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Fife, while the Scottish Government has cut almost £200m from the housing budget.

In March, the Chartered Institute of Housing declared Scotland was facing a housing emergency.

Labour was seeking to push the Government to acknowledge the extent of the crisis in housing across the country.

Had it gone to a vote, it could have seen new First Minister John Swinney’s minority SNP administration lose for the first time.

In declaring a housing emergency itself, the Scottish Government will formally recognise the crisis and will call on the UK Government to reverse cuts in Scotland’s capital funding settlement.

Speaking ahead of the debate, Labour’s 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.”

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