A Fife MSP has called for a national housing strategy to be put in place with the objective to tackle what he calls the ‘growing housing crisis’ in Scotland.
Speaking in the Scottish Parliament Alex Rowley highlighted the current housing position in Scotland stating; “There are over 150,000 people on the council waiting lists in Scotland, 4,000 children in Scotland currently living in temporary accommodation, 36,000 homelessness applications to Scottish local authorities in 2013/14 and an estimated 65,000 households in Scotland living in overcrowded homes”.
In calling for a national plan he said this should set out a target in line with Shelter Scotland’s assessment that we need to see at least 10,000 new homes for rent built each year for the next five years to begin to tackle the back log and build new homes for rent across Scotland, and highlighted specific cases from his own constituency.
The Cowdenbeath MSP said; “The government in Scotland must begin to work with local councils and put local government at the heart of the delivery strategy”. He called for an audit of public land available for council house building in every area, an examination of the planning requirements to progress such development and a new relationship with private developers where social rented housing will be built in private sector developments where there is a housing need locally. He also highlighted that further capital funding would be available through new powers agreed for the Scottish Parliament and also proposed that the Parliament examine new funding sources including local authority pension funds as a possible source of additional funding stating that Scottish Council pension funds are currently valued at £24.1bn and stated that ‘using these funds would be both a good social and financial investment for the funds’.
Speaking afterwards Mr Rowley said; “We have a major shortage of affordable rented housing in my Cowdenbeath constituency, across many areas of Fife and Scotland. We need to put in place a focused strategy that raises the necessary funding but also develops a clear plan to deliver ambitious targets to meet the housing needs of our communities. This will require clear leadership and the ability think differently and work in different ways and that is what we need to see happening and this is what I am calling for from the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government”.