On Wednesday 13th September, a Scottish Conservative led debate on housing saw the party roundly condemned for their deplorable record on housing – and called out for their hypocrisy and ‘brass neck’ in bringing the topic to the Chamber.

The night before the debate, a National Audit Office report was released showing that the number of homeless families in the UK has risen by more than 60% and is “likely to have been driven” by the UK Tory Government’s welfare reforms

These reforms came under fire during the debate– with the shameful ‘bedroom tax’ condemned by the UN as having ‘failed to recognize the specific living arrangements that persons with disabilities require’, and the axing of housing support for 18-21 year olds predicted to force vulnerable young people onto the streets.

The long-standing Right to Buy policy of the UK Tory Government was also strongly criticised. Since its introduction in 1980, it has seen nearly half a million council and housing association homes sold off with little replacement – and the scheme is being expanded by the current UK Tory Government.

By contrast, the SNP in Government is building social housing at a faster rate than any other part of the UK – at 64 per 100,000 population compared to 51 in England, 40 in Wales and 39 in Northern Ireland.

And having exceeded its previous target of 30,000 affordable homes by more than 10%, the Government has set an ambitious new target to deliver 50, 000 affordable homes over the lifetime of this Parliament – backed up by a massive £3 billion investment.

Commenting, Ruth said:

“It feels like this new Tory concern for housing, health and wellbeing is nothing more than an unconvincing PR stunt.

As well as ignoring uncomfortable facts about their own party’s record, the motion also avoided any mention of the positive steps taken by this Scottish Government – an SNP Government which has an extremely strong record when it comes to housing.

Scotland is building social housing at a faster rate than any other part of the UK and has ended Right to Buy– a major step in building a sustainable housing policy for the future – safeguarding our social housing stock so that it’s there when people need it most.

And all this whilst spending millions of pounds mitigating the harmful impact of UK Tory welfare cuts, such as the bedroom tax, on Scottish households – money that is then unavailable to be invested elsewhere – in things like affordable housing.

Since the SNP came into power, the Tories have opposed countless progressive measures to improve conditions for tenants and protect social housing stock – such as abolishing Right to Buy or protecting tenants against high rent increases.

It is clear to me that the Tories are one of the biggest roadblocks to housing – and they have a brass neck coming to this Chamber pretending otherwise.”


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