UK government ‘must consider impact of austerity on housing crisis’
SNP MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has called on the UK government to consider the ongoing impact of its austerity agenda on housing.
Speaking during an opposition day debate in the House of Commons this week, Dr Whiteford, who is also the SNP’s Westminster spokesperson for social justice, work and pensions, said that UK government cuts have left landlords struggling to invest in new housing stock, and have impacted on the ability of devolved and local governments to meet housing need.
Dr Whiteford said: “Although much of housing policy in Scotland is devolved to the Scottish Parliament, the financial framework in which it operates is determined at Westminster. Scotland has had a 25 per cent real terms cut to its Capital budget since 2010, and ongoing austerity will restrict the ability of future governments to respond adequately to a growing housing crisis.
“The SNP’s commitment to housing is underlined by the fact that in spite of austerity cuts, the Scottish Government is on track to invest over £1.7 billion pounds to deliver 30,000 new affordable homes by next year – and we’re already more than 90 per cent of the way there. That track-record compares favourably with other parts of the UK, and with previous administrations.
“We need a thriving private rented sector that’s an attractive and affordable option for tenants. The cost of buying a house means home ownership has hit a 30 year low, and demand for rented accommodation in both the private and social sector has soared, often driving up rents to eye-watering levels.
“For those on lower incomes, market rents in the current environment are just not realistic and so demand for social housing is at unprecedented levels too. However social housing by successive UK governments has been a costly oversight – and a big mistake. The UK government must understand why their approach is so short-sighted, short-term, and short-changes both tax payers and tenants.”