Ensuring that everyone has access to a safe, warm and affordable place to call home is absolutely essential to my sense of a fair Scotland, which is why we have invested—and continue to invest—in expanding our social housing stock.
Since 2007, we have delivered more than 66,000 new homes for social rent as part of more than 95,000 affordable homes. We have invested more than £3.5 billion to deliver on our target of 50,000 affordable homes, including 35,000 for social rent, in this parliamentary session alone.
We have committed £300 million of interim funding for the affordable housing supply budget for the next financial year, which will ensure that new social housing continues to be delivered beyond the current parliamentary session. In addition, to ensure that homes remain in the social rented sector, we ended the right to buy, protecting up to 15,500 houses from being sold over a 10-year period.
An analysis by Shelter shows that 70,000 children are currently on social housing waiting lists. At the end of March, more than 7,000 children were living in temporary accommodation due to homelessness. The Scottish Conservatives support building affordable homes, which is a key aspect to driving down child poverty, creating jobs and meeting climate change targets. However, even without the coronavirus crisis, the Scottish Government’s target of delivering 50,000 affordable homes in the current session of Parliament was going to be missed. Therefore, how will the Scottish National Party Government expedite the delivery of social housing in line with Shelter’s campaign?
Actually, the 50,000 target was absolutely on track to be delivered, and we will do everything that we can, notwithstanding Covid, to ensure that it is met as quickly as possible. As I said, we have already committed funding into the next financial year so that we can continue that commitment beyond the current parliamentary session.
I absolutely take at face value and in good faith the member’s commitment to the provision of social housing and to not having children on waiting lists for it. However, I politely suggest to her that, if that commitment is genuine, as I am sure it is, it would be valuable for her to ask her Conservative colleagues in government in London to protect the Scottish Government’s budget so that cuts are not applied, and perhaps to stop undermining and cutting the benefit entitlements of children in poverty across this country, which does nothing to help the provision of housing. If the Conservatives occasionally matched the rhetoric with action on poverty, homelessness and social housing, we might all be in a better position.