Open letter urges First Minister to reconsider housing and planning budget cuts

Open letter urges First Minister to reconsider housing and planning budget cuts

HFS chief executive Jane Wood

An open letter published today is urging the First Minister to think again about the cuts being proposed to the 2024-25 budgets for housing and planning.

The call comes the day before the Scottish Parliament votes on the draft Scottish Budget for the year ahead and follows the findings of independent research showing that 693,000 Scottish households are facing some form of housing need. It also comes in the context of three Local Authorities having already declared housing emergencies and others considering similar action.

The letter has been signed by housing organisations Homes for Scotland (HFS), the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) and CIH Scotland together with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF).

SFHA chief executive Sally Thomas said: “Parliament will tomorrow decide whether to approve the Scottish Government’s budget – a budget that proposes to slash the money available to build social homes by more than a quarter.

“Almost one in twenty people in Scotland are on a waiting list for a social home, 30,000 are homeless and nearly 10,000 children are growing up in temporary accommodation. We just aren’t building the homes that Scotland needs.

“The budget proposals represent the worst possible decision at the worst possible time and are a hammer-blow to the First Minister’s priority of reducing poverty.”

HFS chief executive Jane Wood said: “At a time when 693,000 Scottish households are facing some form of housing need, all the data shows that the chronic undersupply of housing in Scotland is intensifying. This not only threatens the country’s social wellbeing by perpetuating housing inequality but also risks its economic success and the transition to net zero.

“As we consistently highlight, private and affordable housing delivery are interconnected. With 30 per cent of affordable housing generated by the private sector through developer contributions, the more homes for sale that can be built, the more affordable homes will be delivered as a result. Given the planning system is already on its knees, the 43 per cent funding reduction being proposed will serve only to increase delay and cost, and do nothing to encourage crucial private sector investment.

“We hope that the First Minister will think again about his government’s proposals and that all MSPs will carefully consider the housing needs of their constituents as they vote tomorrow.”

CIH Scotland national director Callum Chomczuk said: “Scotland is in the midst of a housing crisis, with three local authorities already declaring housing emergencies and up to a dozen more on the brink of doing so.

“We all know what the problem is, a failure to build enough affordable homes, and yet the most recent budget exacerbates the crisis by taking almost £200m out of the housing supply budget. But it is not too late to make changes.

“Even at this late stage, the Scottish Government can restore the budget and work with the sector on developing a response to deal with the housing emergency. We hope they take the chance to make addressing Scotland’s housing crisis a political priority.”

Chris Birt, associate director for Scotland at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “There is still time for the First Minister to do the right thing and reverse this massive cut to the affordable housing supply budget. To fail to do so would be baffling in the face of spiralling homelessness and use of temporary accommodation, never mind the Scottish Government’s stated commitment to poverty reduction. Low-income tenants will face increasing rents and insecurity as the supply of affordable housing stalls.

“As a result of this cut to housing, this budget risks being a poverty causing budget rather than a poverty solving budget, and in the face of looming child poverty reduction targets is difficult to understand and even harder to defend.”

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