3. To ask the Scottish Government what analysis it has carried out of the impact on housing and other local government services of the recent poor weather, and what additional assistance it has offered to councils to respond to this. (S5O-04198)
Any impact on housing and other local government services due to the recent poor weather is a matter for individual local authorities. The Scottish Government, for its part, has activated the Bellwin scheme to provide additional revenue support to local authorities to assist with the immediate and unforeseen costs that meet the qualifying criteria in the aftermath of emergency incidents such as the recent storms. The scheme was most recently activated on 25 February following storm Dennis.
Obviously, the recent poor weather has caused fields, roads, railways and local communities in Scotland to flood, which can impact on housing estates and housing construction. In the light of the flooding’s impact on construction, and taking into account the large number of homes that were still to be built before the flooding, can the minister update Parliament on whether the Government remains confident that it will achieve its goal of building 50,000 affordable homes by the end of the current session of Parliament?
I am confident that we will deliver 50,000 affordable homes during this session of Parliament. At the moment, we are on track to do so. However, we must not forget the risks. The weather is one risk, but it can be counteracted. One of the biggest risks is Brexit and the fact that we might lose European nationals who are in the construction workforce, which might cause difficulties. We should also take cognisance of the current situation with Covid-19 and coronavirus, which might cause problems not only in the construction sector but in many other parts of the economy. That is why the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, Jeane Freeman, has been at the forefront of trying to ensure that we do our best to tackle that virus.