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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

The member makes a good point, which I am about to deal with. That is why the issue of homes for social rent is important. That is a pledge that this Government has failed to deliver on.

The issue of rents is important. Aberdeen has had the highest increase in house prices outside London and now we have the highest rents in Scotland. That makes it all the more difficult for those who already live in the north-east but who are on low incomes and are not benefiting from the strong local economy to get the housing that they need. However, when this Government decided to cut the housing association grant to build new homes from £76,000—which it was when Labour left office—to just £44,000, it did not take a rocket scientist to work out that that would mean that fewer homes would be built, and that is what happened. Housing associations told the Government that it would happen and it happened.

Now, finally, ministers have accepted that point and have changed the position so that the cut in the grant has been reduced, and the new level is £58,000. However, I say to ministers that that figure will have to be revised again if it transpires that the 30,000 new homes target cannot be met. To return to Mr Harvie’s point, if that target is met by building homes for mid-market rent, that will not be addressing the need that exists.

I hope that the Government will do more to support the housing associations of the north-east, which stand ready to move forward with the projects to deliver the social housing that our part of Scotland needs. I hope that ministers will rethink an approach to housing that has been marked by swingeing cuts and a lack of delivery. The people who are sitting on housing waiting lists today do not need a change in the constitution; they need a change in the policy of this Government to deliver the homes that they need.