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Scottish government declares housing emergency

SCOTLAND faces a housing emergency, the SNP government conceded today following sustained pressure from campaigners.

Its decision to declare a housing emergency came after months of urging from Shelter Scotland and after five councils, including Edinburgh and Glasgow, had made such a declaration and were joined by the STUC last month.

The latest figures show that a staggering 30,724 households had a live homeless application as of September 2023, up 10 per cent on a year earlier, and that 9,860 children were living in temporary accommodation, a rise of 8 per cent over the same period.

In November, the then SNP-Green coalition government rejected Scottish Labour’s calls for an emergency to be declared.

One month later, Scottish ministers announced plans to slash the affordable homes budget by an eye-watering £200m. This 26 per cent cut was only reduced to a 22 per cent in the last hours of Humza Yousaf’s time as first minister as he pledged to return £80m to the budget over two years.

However, as Scottish Labour returned to Holyrood with proposals to declare a housing emergency, this time they faced a different First Minister and different parliamentary arithmetic.

After the collapse of the SNP-Green coalition, John Swinney no longer has the majority enjoyed by his predecessor and cannot be sure that Greens would hold the line they took in November.

Speaking ahead of the vote, he said he “recognises the seriousness” of the housing situation, adding that this “is why we’re committing ourselves to the terms of a housing emergency.”

Shelter Scotland director Alison Watson said: “Scotland is clearly in a housing emergency and it’s time for our politicians to unite, recognise that it’s devastating the communities they represent and tell us what they’re going to do to end it.”

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