Scottish Labour leadership candidate Richard Leonard has released details of how he intends to tackle the housing crisis facing thousands of residents across Scotland. This builds on his raft of policies to end poverty in Scotland.
On announcing his commitments to deal with the housing crisis, Scottish Labour leadership contender Richard Leonard said:
"Tackling the housing crisis will take more than just warm words, which is why I will deliver radical housing policies as part of my overriding mission to end poverty – a ‘Mary Barbour Law’ to control rents and limit landlords’ excesses, a massive house-building plan for new affordable homes for social rent, tackling rip-off agency fees, compulsory purchase of unused developers’ land, warmer energy-efficient housing, and tenants’ rights."
Scotland urgently needs a new approach to housing - the statistics paint a stark picture. Currently 12 per cent of private renters who are on a waiting list have been on there for more than ten years. There are 748,000 households in fuel poverty, while 38 per cent of Scotland's social housing currently falls beneath the Scottish Housing Quality Standard. And behind every statistic is another person, another family struggling at the sharp end of the housing market, whilst paying more. In spite of a decade of stagnating wages, rents have increased hugely – over a 100 per cent in a decade in some parts of Scotland.
Richard Leonard added:
"Tackling the housing crisis isn’t just about bricks and mortar, it is also about creating warm, safe, quality homes. I want people to have a place that isn’t just a house but a home to call their own - a home where residents can live healthy, fulfilling lives as part of thriving communities.
"The reality for too many people living in Scotland is that they are being overcharged, unable to get a foot on the housing ladder and left waiting on never ending lists. This housing crisis cuts across every community and must end in order to not only eradicate poverty but to see Scotland thrive.
"I understand that paying for improvements to current social housing stock and new social housing will require significant investment. I am committed to finding that investment through the new borrowing powers of the Parliament and proactively and innovatively working with trade unions and others to create a Scottish Public Provident Fund, using public sector pensions funds, to invest in infrastructure. This would create thousands of jobs, help solve our housing crisis while still guaranteeing a return for the pension funds.”
Please see the following detailed housing commitments from Richard Leonard:
Warm, Safe Homes Guarantee
- I will commit to all of Scotland’s housing being warm and secure, at the same time helping tackle our fuel poverty crisis, which impacts on the poorest in our society, including so many of our pensioners.
- I will make sure that every home is fit for human habitation by extending the Scottish Housing Quality Standards to the Private Sector and ensure private landlords adhere to minimum housing standards.
- I will invest to make our current social housing stock is fit for purpose make sure that all housing meets the Scottish Housing Quality Standards.
Building Homes, Creating Jobs
- I will commit to building a minimum of 12,000 new social homes for rent each year: we will act to solve the housing crisis, and put people back to work in the process, by building sufficient numbers of homes for social rent again, and support our re-empowered and properly-resourced local authorities to transform the quality and quantity of social housing across Scotland.
- I will take back undeveloped land held by developers and create the power to compulsorily purchase: if they don’t use it, they will definitely lose it. I will make them help us build the homes that so many of our citizens need in order to lead a decent and fulfilling life.
- I will support our local authorities to build homes and give them the same as the support received by housing associations.
A Better Deal for Renters
- We need firm action on landlord excesses. That is why I want to see tough rent controls to prevent exploitation by landlords: what I’ve called a "Mary Barbour Law.” We will introduce this to rein-in landlord powers - making sure that rents have to meet external standards and subjecting rises to an affordability index.
- I will give tenants in the private rented sector the right to stay in their homes for as long as they need.
Implement a National Homelessness Strategy
- With over over 10,600 homeless applications, including over 6,000 children, I back Shelter Scotland's calls and will deliver a new national strategy to tackle homelessness.