Labour unveils plans to build 60,000 affordable homes

Ken Macintosh
Ken Macintosh

Scottish Labour has pledged to build 60,000 affordable homes if it wins power in May’s Holyrood election.

The Herald has reported that the party is also considering setting a separate target for social housing, in a move senior MSPs believe would highlight failings by the SNP government.

Confirming the plan Ken Macintosh, Scottish Labour’s communities spokesman, said Labour would deliver the 12,000 affordable homes per year that a consortium of organisations, including Shelter Scotland, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations and the Chartered Institute of Housing, says is required to ease the country’s housing crisis.

Last week Kezia Dugdale, the Scottish Labour leader, unveiled a plan to hand first time buyers up to £3,000 to help them get on the housing ladder.

In a letter to the first minister Nicola Sturgeon, Mr Macintosh wrote: “If elected to government in May, Scottish Labour have promised as a minimum to meet this identified affordable housing need.”

Referring to exchanges during First Minister’s Questions, he said: “The SNP mask slipped when the first minister, inadvertently or not, admitted that Scotland is facing a housing crisis.

“At last the SNP – or the first minister at least – seem to be accepting they have some responsibility for this crisis.

“They could begin by matching Labour’s commitment to addressing housing need, rather than setting targets which once again fall short.”

Of the 30,000 affordable homes built since 2011, around 20,000 have been for social rent. Housing bodies have been told the SNP wants to build 35,000 socially rented houses as part of its promised 50,000 affordable homes by 2021.

Around 150,000 households in Scotland are on council waiting lists for accommodation.

Mary Taylor, chief executive of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, said “the bulk” of new affordable housing should be made available for social rent.

She added: “While we believe that there is room, and indeed need, for a range of solutions to tackle the housing crisis, it is vital that the majority of affordable homes are for social rent.

“However, there is a real danger that if housing grant rates are not increased, this will not happen.

“Housing has to be affordable for people on low to moderate incomes, and this can’t be realised without increasing grant rates.”

SNP MSP Clare Adamson dismissed Labour’s plan.

She said: “Given that both Labour’s leader and deputy leader repeatedly failed to give any commitment on homebuilding this week, most people will see this panicked announcement for what it is.

“The SNP government has exceeded its target to build 30,000 affordable homes this term, including over 6,000 council houses – compared to Labour’s paltry six in office.

“If re-elected, we have committed to at least 50,000 new affordable homes in the next term.”

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