The Scottish Conservatives will today challenge the Scottish Government to adopt its “ambitious but deliverable” proposals aimed at tackling Scotland’s housing crisis.
In a debate at Holyrood this afternoon, the party will outline a series of measures its hopes the government will adopt to address the shortage of homes, including the construction of a new generation of new towns in Scotland and a dedicated minister for housing in the cabinet, a move supported by housing charity Shelter.
The package, outlined by Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson earlier this month, also proposes the establishment of the Housing and Infrastructure Agency which would be charged with delivering the necessary infrastructure, such as new roads and public services needed for major new developments.
The promotion of a new generation of Housing Deals which would bid for bespoke packages of support in certain areas, and a New Towns Act to construct new garden towns and villages, will also be floated.
Bringing empty properties back onto the market as a matter of urgency would help more people find a suitable home, MSPs will argue.
Speaking ahead of the debate, Scottish Conservative communities spokesman, Adam Tomkins, said: “A house isn’t just four walls and a roof. It’s where memories are made and families formed. For Scots it’s the very essence of aspiration.
“To deliver this we need radical reform of our congested planning laws and a new ‘can-do’ attitude from Scottish ministers, who are asleep at the wheel.”
He added: “The housing shortage isn’t a looming crisis or a distant threat. We are living in it and we need political leadership to address it.
“I’m delighted to be setting out our ambitious but deliverable plan to tackle one of Scotland’s major challenges.”
SNP MSP James Dornan accepted getting on the housing ladder is “massive challenge” for many, but added: “The Tories have a real brass neck posing as concerned campaigners for affordable homes.”
Mr Dornan said: “It was the Tories that sold off our council homes – many of which are now in the hands of private landlords – putting enormous pressure on remaining social housing.
“That’s a legacy that is felt by those on council house waiting lists to this day, and still the Tories opposed our efforts to protect remaining social housing.”
He added: “When the SNP gave tenants greater security in their homes and limits on rent rises, the Tories opposed it.
“When we gave councils the power to tackle rent pressure zones, the Tories acted as prophets of doom.
“And it was the SNP who stepped in to effectively stop the ‘bedroom tax’ in Scotland – while Tory welfare cuts, particularly Universal Credit, are driving up rent arrears.
“Ruth Davidson has a brass neck complaining about the housing market – it’s always her party who act as the biggest roadblock to progress in housing.”