I have no idea how many private sector houses there are. At one time, Dundee had 40,000 houses, which constituted about 60 per cent. of the housing stock. It now owns about 38,000.
In a statement about the Whitfield estate, the Government agreed that the way to tackle the housing crisis in peripheral estates is to increase expenditure on them and housing services. When the Government are asked for the money, however, nothing happens. They have slashed housing support grant, taken away the general fund contribution and slashed the capital allocation to the council.
Next year, Dundee's housing revenue account block A allocation is to be cut by more than 50 per cent., from £9·95 million last year to just £4·43 million this year. How is the council supposed to tackle the city's massive housing problems when the Government will not even let it borrow money to spend on housing? It is selling the housing stock as fast as possible.
My hon. Friend the Member for Garscadden mentioned the Minister's refusal to have a house condition survey, such as is done in England and Wales, for Scotland. However, there are housing check lists. Dundee district council carried out one of those checks last year to update its five-year rolling plan for housing in the city. It found that 13,800 houses needed modernisation and 11,300 houses suffered from condensation and damp. It has calculated that it will need £25 million a year in capital allocations to deal with those problems. However, the Government have suggested that Dundee should receive only £4·03 million in capital allocation.
We could understand that level of allocation if there was a shortage of money. However, we cannot pick up a paper today without reading that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has £15,000 million of Budget surplus that he does not know what to do with. We only want a tiny wee fraction of that £15,000 million to start to tackle the housing problems in Scotland. No one understands why the Minister will not agree to that.