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Housing

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

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Photo of Richard Baker Richard Baker Labour

Mr Mason knows that this party brought forward a clear budget proposal last year for building more homes and increasing substantially the housing budget, and that was not predicated on anything that Mr Mason has suggested. He should have looked carefully at our budget proposal last year.

The fact of the matter is that the previous Executive built 10,000 more homes in the last year of our Administration than this Government did last year. Whatever weasel tactics the Government is using with regard to the data it chooses to use, the fact is that we built more social housing and it has failed to deliver on the pledges that it has made in this area.

We will debate a number of statistics this afternoon, but we should remember the human impact. I think of the young woman and her partner who, for three years, had to share their bedroom with their son, and the impact that that had on their lives. I think of the families in which brothers and sisters are sharing rooms way beyond the ages that the vast majority of us would find acceptable, because their parents cannot secure the housing that they need. That is what is happening on the ground in our communities. There are many stories like that.

The Government’s figures show that 1,000 households in Aberdeen and 3,000 in Aberdeenshire are defined as overcrowded, with thousands of people on waiting lists. Aberdeen City Council proposes to build 2,000 new social homes through its infrastructure plan. It is acting on that. It is the Scottish Government that is entirely failing to step up to the plate on this important issue for the north-east.

If there are more people on waiting lists, surely we must build more homes. Instead, the figures from the Government state that there were only 99 social sector new-build starts in Aberdeenshire in 2012-13 and a round figure in Aberdeen of zero. That figure sits against a figure of more than 1,300, which is the number of affordable homes that local housing associations estimate are required. It is not surprising that, in July, Audit Scotland found:

“Aberdeen City is one of the few council areas in Scotland with a surplus of jobs, but the area received the lowest allocation per head of population for new homes in the 2012-15 plans.”

That is a lower allocation of a diminishing budget.