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Housing

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

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Photo of James Kelly James Kelly Labour

I acknowledge that there has been a world crisis that has contributed to the housing problems, but it is disingenuous of the SNP to try to sit on the sidelines and say that it has had no part in the Scottish housing crisis. By the SNP’s own admission, the budgets have been cut by 29 per cent, which is more than the cuts that were passed on by Westminster. As Richard Baker pointed out in his speech, the HAG support levels were cut from a previous level of about £70,000 down to about £40,000. I know that there has been some restoration but housing associations are struggling severely to make up the shortfall in order to be able to bring new houses on to the market.

Patrick Harvie complained that the debate was getting bogged down on independence. He is right that the debate should not be focused solely on independence but we cannot ignore the impact of the independence vote that will take place in September next year on housing. For a start, the SNP has taken its eyes off the ball. It has become so obsessed by independence that it is not focusing on the real issues that are affecting constituents up and down the country. Also, we are entitled to look at the implications of independence for house building in Scotland. As Mary Fee mentioned, the Jones Lang LaSalle survey that was published in September tells us that major house builders in this country fear that independence would mean fewer houses being built. Where would that leave us in addressing the crisis?