More than 24,000 disabled Scots waiting for social housing

Data showed there was an almost 150% increase on housing waiting lists since 2017.

More than 24,000 disabled Scots waiting for social housing, new figures show iStock

More than 24,000 disabled Scots are waiting for social housing, with new figures showing one person has been on the list for a home for almost 60 years.

Data obtained under Freedom of Information showed there are 24,209 disabled people on housing waiting lists, up from 9,714 in 2017 – an increase of almost 150%

The Scottish Conservatives warned the true extent of the problem is likely to be far higher, with only 23 of Scotland’s 32 councils providing information.

The Tories, which submitted the FOI request, also found that at Edinburgh City Council one person – who self-assessed as disabled – had been on the common housing register for social housing since March 1, 1963.

The council said in its response that “this application is registered by a household who have a home and are therefore classed as a ‘Mover’ for bidding through the choice-based letting system”.

Commenting on the figures the Tory spokesman for social justice, housing and local government, Miles Briggs said: “The SNP have a shameful record on social housing and these shocking statistics show that it is the most vulnerable who are suffering as a result of it.”

He added that disabled Scots were having to wait for a new home from either the council or a housing association at the same time as “tens of thousands of unoccupied properties are lying empty, often derelict, across the county, neglected by Nicola Sturgeon’s government”.

Briggs said: “It is appalling that almost 67,000 viable properties – 55,000-plus of them domestic properties – are being wasted in this way.

“To leave disabled people languishing on waiting lists for years – and in some cases decades – is disgraceful, especially when there are so many buildings lying empty.”

The Scottish Tories support relaxing planning laws, to make it easier to redevelop empty properties, with this included in the party’s 2021 election manifesto.

But Briggs said the figures also underlined the need for an independent commissioner who would be a champion for disabled Scots – something fellow Tory MSP Jeremy Balfour has proposed in a member’s Bill.

A disability commissioner would help with the “job of championing the cause of disabled Scots and shining a light on injustices such as this”, Briggs said.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We want disabled people in Scotland to have choice, dignity and freedom to access suitable homes, built or adapted so they can participate as full and equal citizens.

“Wherever possible all new affordable homes are designed to meet people’s needs as they change over time, including people with disabilities.

“We have issued guidance for local authorities to deliver more wheelchair-accessible housing, and councils will soon have to report annually on targets for delivering accessible homes.

“Disabled applicants are given priority access to our low cost initiative for first time buyers schemes, including open market shared equity (OMSE), which help people on low to moderate incomes buy a home.

“We recently widened eligibility to OMSE to ensure as many people as possible could benefit.

“Scotland has led the way in the delivery of affordable housing across the UK, having delivered almost 113,000 affordable homes since 2007, over 79,000 of which were for social rent.”

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