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Government accused of ‘underestimating’ scale of Scottish housing crisis

Friday 04 August 2017

The Scottish Government has been accused of underestimating social housing demand in Scotland by around 30 per cent, according to new analysis from Scottish Labour.

While the government estimates that there are 142,500 households on council waiting lists, Labour said the real figure is closer to 200,000 as it does not include people in the six local authorities which have transferred their stock to housing associations.

Analysis by the party shows that there are at least an additional 45,000 households on waiting lists with the largest housing associations in Glasgow; Argyll and Bute; Dumfries and Galloway; Western Isles; Scottish Borders and Inverclyde.

Using data from the Scottish Housing Regulator, Labour’s analysis shows a “conservative estimate” of the total number of people on housing waiting list in the local authority areas where council stock has been transferred to housing associations to be 45,237.

Labour wants to see a national house building strategy to tackle the housing crisis and create jobs, and accelerated investment in house building.

Shelter Scotland has identified that 60,000 affordable homes need to be built by the end of this Parliament to address the housing shortage, a figure Scottish Labour committed to meet.

As a first step towards this strategy, Labour housing spokesperson, Pauline McNeill MSP, said the government must accurately establish how many households in Scotland are waiting for a social rented home.

Ms McNeill said: “We must have an accurate picture of the number of people waiting on a house so that we know how many homes are required. With the stock transfer authorities excluded from government figures, the scale of this problem is severely underestimated. It cannot be right that the whole of Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, is not included in the government’s waiting list for people needing a home.

“The SNP government must not renege on its promise to build at least 50,000 new affordable homes, or water it down by including refurbished properties in the target. Building more homes is the twin track route to a better nation. Housing costs are a huge driver of poverty and investing more in house building would kick-start our economy.

“Labour wants to see a national house building strategy which sets out the numbers of houses to be built in each area and allows for proper planning and delivery. This strategy also means planning local jobs and apprenticeships around the programme.

“We need to ensure there is the capacity, the available land and the resources to be able to deliver the houses for social rent that are required. A national house building strategy with local delivery plans for every local council area of Scotland would do just that.”