Proposed Rent Freeze

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 29 September 2022.

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Photo of Elizabeth Smith Elizabeth Smith Conservative

3. To ask the First Minister what the response has been from stakeholder groups regarding the Scottish Government’s proposals to introduce a freeze on rent. (S6F-01387)

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

Those measures have been welcomed by a number of stakeholder groups that recognise the huge pressure that the cost crisis is placing on households and the importance of urgent action. However, in advance of the publication of our detailed proposals, we have also been carefully considering reasonable points that have been made by other stakeholders, including landlords and, within that, social landlords. We will continue to engage with all stakeholders as we continue to develop the detail of the proposals.

Photo of Elizabeth Smith Elizabeth Smith Conservative

Irrespective of our political views about the proposed legislation, which most stakeholders agree is both complex and controversial, does the First Minister think that it is acceptable practice for it to be pushed through Parliament in just three days, when MSPs will see the bill for only an hour before it is due to be debated?

Can she confirm whether it is correct that some stakeholders are being provided with prior sight of the bill before MSPs?

The First Minister:

First, I do not think that emergency legislation is ideal. I would rather that we were not in the position of having to introduce emergency legislation to protect people from the impact of rent increases, but I also wish that we were not in a deteriorating cost of living crisis that has been caused and is, right now, being exacerbated by Liz Smith’s party in government at Westminster.

We have a duty to take action as far as we can to protect people from that cost of living crisis and we will continue to do so.

We are committed to working with the sector, and we are having discussions ahead of any decisions that we are taking. As I came into the chamber for First Minister’s question time, I think that I heard Patrick Harvie talking about a meeting on Tuesday this week of a short-life task and finish group, involving stakeholders.

We will, of course, continue to talk to stakeholders, and Parliament will have the opportunity to scrutinise the proposals when they come before us in the coming days.

Photo of Emma Roddick Emma Roddick Scottish National Party

At the Social Justice and Social Security Committee this morning, we heard from Shelter Scotland, which said that the recent short-term emergency measures in the programme for government to ensure that citizens can access their right to a home are very welcome in the context of the cost of living crisis but that it waits to see the final detail. What is the First Minister’s response to that important contribution?

The First Minister:

I welcome both parts of it. I visited Shelter Scotland on the day after the programme for government launch and heard directly from advice workers on the massive challenges that tenants experience day to day and the urgent need to support tenants who are in difficulty. I also discussed in general terms the measures that we had announced.

Of course, it is important that everybody scrutinises the detail and that we carefully consider it. Shelter is one of a number of stakeholders that will do exactly that alongside members of the Parliament.

Photo of Mercedes Villalba Mercedes Villalba Labour

Scotland’s tenants union, Living Rent, continues to report rent increases on its members despite the First Minister’s announcement of a rent freeze on 6 September. What steps is the Scottish Government taking to ensure that every tenant and landlord knows about the rent freeze and the moratorium on evictions? Do they include writing to everyone who is affected?

The First Minister:

We will take all reasonable steps to ensure that there is high awareness of our proposals and of the law that will be introduced if Parliament passes the bill. I will certainly consider whether we can take steps such as writing to people who are affected. It is important not only that we take those measures but that people are aware of them. It is a constructive suggestion and I will give further consideration to it.