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Housing

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 4th December 2013.

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Photo of Alex Johnstone Alex Johnstone Conservative

I want to move on to talk about issues of investment. There, too, the private sector has an opportunity to do its bit. It is not as if the private sector is reluctant to deal with local authorities in terms of investment. I know for a fact that there are investment funds that are keen to invest in housing and infrastructure, but to make that happen there must be stronger leadership from the Scottish Government than we are currently seeing.

There needs to be ambition, flexibility and a can-do attitude to get houses built with private funding, but so far all we have had is the usual navel gazing and obsession with welfare reform—recurrent once again during this debate—which ignores housing and leaves those who desperately need a home of their own as little more than pawns in Alex Salmond’s game of thrones.

We need to know what the stumbling blocks are to the Scottish Government accessing private funding. Is it the Marxist dogma that it insists on pursuing at the moment? Is it an inability to understand private finance, or is there some other reason why pension funds and other investment bodies are standing with their cheque books open, ready to invest in social and affordable housing, but the houses are not getting built?

The desperate need for new social and affordable homes demands a sophisticated and comprehensive approach. We have heard that discussed in this chamber before, but we fail to deliver.