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Housing emergency declaration welcomed but Scottish Government urged to ‘back words with action.’

Scottish Federation of Housing Associations says declaration must include reversing ‘hammer-blow’ £196m affordable housebuilding cut. 

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The Scottish Government has been urged to significantly ramp up investment in affordable rented housing as it prepares to declare a national housing emergency later today. 

It comes after Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Shirley- Anne Somerville MSP, revealed that the Scottish Government, under new First Minister John Swinney, would declare the emergency, stating that it was one of the “defining issues of a generation”. 

MSPs were due to debate a motion on Wednesday asking the Scottish Parliament to declare a housing emergency, following an open letter from the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA), Shelter Scotland, and others saying that it was desperately needed.  

In recent months the Scottish Government has come under intense scrutiny from housing campaigners after a £196m cut to the affordable housing supply programme was announced in the Scottish Budget under former First Minister Humza Yousaf. 

Those calls have continued from SFHA who said that today’s declaration of a housing emergency, while welcome, would only be meaningful if it included a renewed focus on delivering affordable rented homes and reversing the previous budget cuts. 

SFHA Chief Executive, Sally Thomas said: “Today’s declaration is a welcome first step on a path out of the housing emergency.  We know that can only be achieved through an iron-clad commitment to delivering many more affordable rented homes and, at a minimum, reversing the hammer-blow cut of almost £200m to the affordable housebuilding budget. 

“With homelessness at its highest ever level and a record number of households trapped in temporary accommodation, including nearly 10,000 children, now is the time for the Scottish Government to back words with action. 

“Up to 20,000 children are kept out of poverty in Scotland because they live in a social home; delivering more social homes is the best route out of our housing emergency and is also a crucial step in eradicating child poverty. 

“Critically, to keep the rents affordable, it is essential that substantial funding is found from within government: we know that Scottish Government is keen to attract more private investment, and this will only work if the financial input from government is sufficient to keep rents affordable.  

“Social homes rely on public investment to be affordable for those who need them most, and if we’re not to burden housing associations with debt which will force up rents in the future. “ 

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