Social Housing Waiting Lists (Disabled People)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 14 March 2024.

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Photo of Meghan Gallacher Meghan Gallacher Conservative

5. To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to reduce social housing waiting lists for disabled people. (S6O-03202)

Photo of Paul McLennan Paul McLennan Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government has led the United Kingdom on housing by delivering more than 126,000 affordable homes since 2007, more than 89,000 of which were for social rent

, including almost 24,000 council homes. We will also invest £556 million in affordable housing in 2024-25, the majority of which will be for social rent.

We remain focused on delivering 110,000 affordable homes by 2032. To support that, we will bring forward a review that was scheduled for 2026-27 to 2024, which will concentrate on deliverability. We are also working with the financial community in Scotland and elsewhere to boost private sector investment and help deliver more homes.

There is also a role for local authorities in preparing their local housing strategies. I am discussing that with them to identify, first, what the waiting lists are and, secondly, the actions that they are undertaking in that regard.

Photo of Meghan Gallacher Meghan Gallacher Conservative

The minister might be aware that in North Lanarkshire, 1,170 disabled people, many of whom are children, are currently stuck on social housing waiting lists. Instead of taking the issue seriously, the Scottish National Party Government has chosen to slash the housing budget by more than £200 million in the past year. How does the minister expect to cut those lists when social house building is being discouraged by his own Government’s cuts?

Photo of Paul McLennan Paul McLennan Scottish National Party

I will come to that point in a second.

A key element of our approach was the launch in June last year of the consultation on “Housing for Varying Needs: a design guide”, which related to new builds— the consultation closed in December.

When we talk about investment in social housing, there are a couple of points of context to highlight. One is that we build 40 per cent more affordable homes than England does, and 70 per cent more than Wales does.

There is a 10 per cent capital budget cut from the member’s Government—[

Interruption

.] Obviously, the member has no influence on that whatsoever. It was a choice by the Tory Government to cut the capital budget allocation to the Scottish Government—[

Interruption

.]

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Minister, can you resume your seat?

It started with a question being heckled, disappointingly, by some who had already been invited to ask a question. The answers are now likewise being heckled. We are not going to get through this item of business if that continues.

Minister, please continue.

Photo of Paul McLennan Paul McLennan Scottish National Party

I mentioned the 10 per cent capital budget cut. There was also a dramatic cut to the financial transactions, which gave us flexibility. We spend £90 million a year on discretionary housing payments—again, due to policies by your Government. If those payments were removed, we would have £90 million extra to invest in the houses that you are talking about.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Speak through the chair, please, minister.

Photo of Paul O'Kane Paul O'Kane Labour

The minister will be aware of the “Dying in the margins” work by Marie Curie and the University of Glasgow, which has reinforced the significant demand for adapted properties for people who are diagnosed with a terminal illness. When someone passes, there is an impact on their family when they have to move out of an adapted property very quickly.

What will the Government do to engage with that piece of work to ensure a sufficiency of adapted properties and support for people who are grieving?

Photo of Paul McLennan Paul McLennan Scottish National Party

The member’s question is well timed. I spoke to Ellie Wagstaff at an event last night, and she talked about that particular project.

I have been doing a piece of work with MND Scotland, which supports people who are in a similar position to others with debilitating or terminal diseases. We have been working with the Association of Local Authority Chief Housing Officers and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities to deliver a pathway that provides effective adaptations at the outset, when people need them. COSLA and ALACHO continue to work with MND Scotland and others to deliver that pathway. I am happy to pick that up with the member afterwards.

Photo of Willie Rennie Willie Rennie Liberal Democrat

The minister must know that one in four wheelchair users says that their home is not suitable for their needs, and that 17,000 of them have unmet housing needs. Many people in my North East Fife constituency are desperate for a home, yet only 1 per cent of the social housing is suitable. With 17 years of a social housing build programme, why are so many homes unsuitable for disabled people?

Photo of Paul McLennan Paul McLennan Scottish National Party

I t is very much a partnership approach. I mentioned the local housing strategies, which are produced by the local authorities. I have had discussions with Fife Council and other local authorities; it is about making sure that they are aware of the number of people who are in that position, which Mr Rennie talked about, and what they can do. We talk about adaptation in “Housing for Varying Needs: a design guide”, which deals with housing going forward, but it is up to the local housing strategy, which Fife Council would have produced, to identify the numbers involved.

I have raised the matter with Fife Council on a number of occasions, and I am happy to pick it up with Mr Rennie afterwards.