Homes for the many
Home is at the heart of all of our lives. It’s the foundation on which we raise our families, the bedrock of our dreams and aspirations. But for too many people, the housing pressures they face are getting worse, not better.
There is a housing crisis in Scotland. With overcrowding and a lack of suitable accommodation for families and people with disabilities, Scotland not only needs more homes but more of the right homes.
It doesn’t have to be like this. For Labour, housing is a social justice issue.
Increasing the number of affordable homes is a key priority for Labour. There are at least 150,000 households on waiting lists for housing in Scotland.
Shelter Scotland has identified that 60,000 homes need to be built by the end of this Parliament to address the housing shortage, a figure Scottish Labour committed to meet.
High rents are one of the driving factors preventing people from saving for their own home, pushing people into poverty and, in the most extreme cases, making people homeless.
Rough sleeping in Scotland’s largest cities has risen dramatically over the last two years, with night shelters reporting an increase in demand of up to 94 per cent. In the last year, the number of Scots living in temporary accommodation has risen by 20 per cent.
Housing costs also push many people into poverty. In Scotland, 150,000 more people are in in-work poverty, after housing costs are taken into consideration. Providing access to good quality, affordable, and stable housing is a crucial factor in achieving the conditions necessary to achieve equality of opportunity.
A UK Labour government will oversee the most radical, and the largest, housebuilding programme since the war, investing to build over a million new homes. This will provide resources to the Scottish government to invest in Scotland’s housing stock.
Labour will not only build more homes, we will build better homes. We will insulate more homes to help people manage the cost of energy bills, to reduce preventable winter deaths, and to meet our climate change targets. We will consult on new rules to prevent ‘rabbit hutch’ homes and on new modern standards for building ‘zero-carbon’ homes.
Labour would prioritise brownfield sites, and protect the green belt.
Across the UK, the number of home-owning households has fallen by 900,000 among the under-45s since 2010.
In Scotland, just over a quarter of people under the age of 34 own their own home – down from just under half in 1999. It is important that the opportunity exists for people who aspire to own their own home to get onto the housing ladder.
Labour will back first-time buyers to buy that special first home.
We will guarantee Help to Buy funding until 2027 to give long-term certainty to both first-time buyers and the housebuilding industry. We will also give local people buying their first home ‘first dibs’ on new homes built in their area to give them confidence that new homes will be available to them and their families.
Labour will build the new homes first-time buyers need – just as Labour councils have been doing right across the country.
Scottish Labour would end insecurity for private renters by introducing controls on rent rises. A Labour government will introduce new consumer rights for renters.
Soaring rents are a real problem – leading to more families living in temporary accommodation, more rough sleeping, and many not having enough money to save up for a deposit or for a rainy day. The SNP has not met its commitment to renters. We would introduce rent controls to protect tenants from rip-off rents.
Scottish Labour would consult on introducing a charter, similar to that in the social rent sector, to drive up standards in the private rental sector.
We will reverse the Tories’ cruel decision to abolish housing benefit for 18-21 year olds, which risks putting even more vulnerable young people on our streets.
Labour will scrap the punitive “bedroom tax” across the UK, a cruel and unnecessary measure which has caused many people to be evicted from their homes and communities.
The number of people sleeping rough in Scotland is rising. Shockingly, over the last ten months in Glasgow, four people a month have died while sleeping on the streets.
A comprehensive new cross- department strategy on tackling homelessness is required. As part of this strategy, a focus on ‘housing first’ should be considered.
This model has had success in parts of the US as well as some of the Nordic countries. It moves people directly into housing from the street and shelters without the precondition of undergoing treatment.
Labour will set out a new national plan to end rough sleeping within the next Parliament, and we will also take action to tackle the root causes of homelessness, including safeguarding homelessness hostels and other supported housing from crude Tory cuts to housing benefit.