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Local authorities, including Fife Council, have a statutory duty to house people. The Homelessness etc (Scotland) Act 2003 and the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 placed new duties on local authorities. At the moment, many local authorities are struggling just to meet their statutory duties, never mind to house people with general needs.
The Executive has undertaken a review of affordable housing, which lasted until April 2004. When the minister sums up, it will be useful if she speaks about the review, its timetable and its outputs. As Iain Smith recognised, the strategy that Fife Council has developed will be only a piece of paper until the council gets the resources
Houses are being built that cost more than £100,000. Few young people can afford to buy such houses and people on average incomes are simply being priced out of the market. Many young people live with their parents for longer, because they simply cannot get into the housing market. The shortage of affordable accommodation and the fact that housing is not available in the right place at the right time are particular problems in north-east Fife, because of the number of second homes there, but they are also problems throughout Fife.
Ted Brocklebank is right. There are areas in Scotland in which there are surplus houses. Frankly, however, the surplus houses are in places where jobs do not exist and where people do not want to live. It is not just a matter of saying that there are houses on a council estate somewhere and asking why people do not go there to live. We must provide the houses where the jobs and the people are.