A report from Shelter Scotland estimates that almost 6,000 children in Scotland will wake up homeless and in temporary accommodation this Christmas. This is a real tragedy and is why housing must be further up the political agenda with a national house build strategy being a must in 2018. If you add to those who are homeless, the numbers of people/families on the council waiting lists, the numbers overcrowded and the numbers in poor accommodation, then action must surely become a priority.
As well as helping those who need housing such a plan would also give people access to skills, apprenticeships and jobs. It is also the case that more than a quarter of Scottish homes – around 649,000 – are stuck in fuel poverty. A national plan for addressing fuel poverty will also create jobs and skills opportunities. We need joined up thinking when it comes to housing in Scotland and this is why I continue to make the issue a priority.
This week also saw the roll out of Universal Credit in Fife despite the many warnings from most of civic Scotland that this new benefit will cause untold misery for tens of thousands of individuals and families across the country. I joined with campaigners from across Fife to promote a petition calling on the Tory government in Westminster to halt this terrible and flawed policy. You have to ask yourself, why on earth would any government in 2017 proceed with a policy that it knows is flawed and will cause real damage to people. We need rid of that government and who knows what 2018 will bring.
It was announced this week that Scotland’s hard-pressed rail passengers are facing the largest hike in fares since 2013. From January, some Scottish rail fares will increase by up to 3.6 per cent, rising faster than wages. The rise in ticket prices and the too often poor service we experience in Fife shows why there is a need for a publicly owned railway. Commuters in Scotland already pay some of the highest fares of any passengers in Western Europe yet the service they receive is simply not good enough to justify such staggering fare hikes. This is why I think it is right to bring the railways into public ownership, creating a rail network that puts passengers first and delivers more affordable rail travel. Re-nationalisation of our railways is the right thing to do.