Scottish government to declare national housing emergency

The Scottish government is to declare a national housing emergency during a Labour-led debate at Holyrood

The announcement will come from social justice secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville.

She will argue that the national housing emergency is caused by factors beyond the Scottish government’s control, such as the disruptive effects of Brexit, UK government austerity measures, and economic incompetence.

There will be calls for all parties in Scotland to work together to tackle “one of the defining issues of a generation”.

By officially announcing an emergency, the Scottish government acknowledges the housing crisis and urges the reversal of cuts to its capital budget.

Ahead of the debate, Ms Somerville said: “Despite having one hand tied behind our back by Westminster austerity, we have taken firm action on housing – and we can be proud of a record showing we have delivered significantly more affordable homes than in England and Wales, and taken firm action on rent increases.

“As a first step, this will require the current UK government – and the UK Labour Party – to commit to reversing the almost 9% cut to Scotland’s capital budget, and I am today asking the Scottish Parliament to unite with one voice to demand a change in approach and an end to austerity which has caused untold harm to people across the country.”

However, UK ministers said that the Scottish government receives around 25% more funding from Whitehall than other parts of the UK.

Reduction to the Scottish housing budget this year

Scottish Labour is set to highlight a reduction of £200m by the Scottish government to the housing budget this year.

The cut, announced in December, came amid growing fears over the housing supply.

Finance secretary Shona Robison attributed the £200m reduction in housing spending to cuts from Westminster.

In one of his last actions as First Minister the previous month, Humza Yousaf disclosed an £80m boost to the same budget spanning two years.

Scotland could miss out on £4.5bn of private sector housing investment

Ahead of the national housing emergency announcement, the Scottish Property Federation warned that Scotland stands to miss out on £4.5bn of private sector housing investment over the next decade.

The organisation, which represents companies involved in private ownership and investment, maintains that investment, which could create 17,000 construction jobs and thousands of new homes, is at risk due to government plans to introduce rent controls.

Despite being one of the largest sectors in the UK, the construction industry is struggling to find new talents and skills.

According to a Construction Skills Network report, nearly 225,000 new construction workers will be needed by 2027 to meet the demand.

As the debate unfolds, addressing the national housing emergency will require concerted efforts from all political parties in Scotland and will help to safeguard construction jobs vital to the economy.

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