Housing Shortage (Short-term Lets)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 31st October 2019.

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Photo of Alison Johnstone Alison Johnstone Green

3. We have grown used to waiting for the Scottish National Party Government to act on a whole range of issues. We are waiting for the health and social care workforce plan; we are waiting for our new state-of-the-art children’s hospital to open; we are waiting for a real ban on fox hunting and for an end to the indiscriminate slaughter of Scotland’s wildlife on our grouse moors; and we are waiting for the First Minister’s Government to start meeting its own climate change targets.

Over the past three years, the number of homes lost to short-terms lets has tripled, making a home an ever-more distant prospect for tens of thousands of people in Scotland. Can the First Minister tell me how long we have to wait until her Government introduces the controls that are urgently needed to protect our communities?

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

We will set out our proposals following our consultation later this year, and since this year is beginning to draw to a close, that will be pretty soon.

Photo of Alison Johnstone Alison Johnstone Green

My colleague Andy Wightman first raised the issue with the minister almost two years ago, in November 2017. He also amended the Planning (Scotland) Bill—his amendment offered a way forward. Parliament appeared supportive, but at the last minute, the First Minister’s Government sided with the Conservatives to block the amendment and give us a “Tory-style” planning bill, as the Conservative spokesperson so gleefully described it.

Yet again, an SNP Government is too timid to take action.

Here in Edinburgh, short-term lets are out of control, and on Skye, one fifth of all homes are short-term lets—in the midst of a housing crisis. The public is demanding action. Even SNP MSPs who voted against controls are now demanding action. Will the First Minister give us a date when short-term lets will finally be regulated?

The First Minister:

I addressed the timescale in my earlier answer, but the rest of the member’s question is a complete mischaracterisation. Alison Johnstone is wrong in what she is saying.

In his amendments to the Planning (Scotland) Bill, Andy Wightman was trying to impose on all parts of the country a solution that may be right for Edinburgh, but the fact of the matter is that we do not see exactly the same pressures in all parts of the country. We therefore took the view that, instead of imposing an inappropriate one-size-fits-all policy, it would be better to allow local authorities to decide whether short-term let control areas were required in their part of the country. That is the kind of devolved decision making for local authorities that the Greens usually pop up in the chamber to demand that we do more of.

The Presiding Officer:

We have further supplementaries.