Scotland needs more affordable housing

WHILE I am used to disagreeing with my political opponents, one issue where there is normally agreement across the political spectrum is that Scotland needs more affordable housing.

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According to Shelter Scotland, 157,700 families and individuals are stuck on housing waiting lists and more than 5000 children will spend Christmas this year without a home.

But as well as providing a place for people to live, building new homes is also one of the best ways to get the economy back on track, providing employment opportunities for young people and investing in an industry with a wide supply network.

That is why the revelation this week in answer to a Parliamentary Question that the Scottish Government has cut the money used to support housing associations to build new homes by more than half is a let down for the thousands of families desperate for a home.

It is also a blow for the construction companies desperate for work, which would sustain thousands of workers in Glasgow and across the country.

Instead this week we had another dreadful set of unemployment figures, which once again showed Scottish unemployment rising while it is falling in the rest of the UK.

At a time of high unemployment and long housing lists, it is nothing short of a scandal that the construction of new social rented homes has plummeted from 7700 in 2009/10 to a low of only 3000 this year.

The Scottish Government has been warned that it will miss its own targets for new home construction and there are now concerns that the reductions in Housing Association grants might lead to higher rent as Housing Associations have to balance their books.

This is unacceptable for families living on already hard pressed household budgets.

Last week, at a time when more young people are desperate for a job or college place, the First Minister was forced into a humiliating climbdown after it became clear he misled Parliament on cuts to college budgets.

On Thursday, college principals would have been interested to hear the First Minister announce that their budgets had actually increased this year.

The First Minister was totally confident in the Government's position. But as we all now know after the EU debacle, the First Minister is not to be trusted. His rhetoric in Parliament rarely matches up to reality in the real world.

And so it was that the First Minister was forced to come back to face MSPs and admit he had misled Parliament.

To the surprise of no-one in the college sector, budgets had indeed been cut. And not just this year but next year too and by much more.

After the recent EU legal debacle, the shambolic attempt to rig the ministerial code and now the Government's chaotic handling of college budgets, it is no wonder that Alex Salmond no longer has any credibility and can't be trusted.

Families

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