Families are waiting more than three years for an Edinburgh council house

Councillors are calling for more funding to combat Edinburgh’s housing crisis, as new figures show the average waiting time for a three-bedroom council house in the capital is now over three years.

By Joseph Anderson
Thursday, 22nd October 2020, 6:48 pm
Councillors are calling for more funding to combat Edinburgh’s housing crisis
Councillors are calling for more funding to combat Edinburgh’s housing crisis

Councillors are calling for more funding to combat Edinburgh’s housing crisis, as new figures show the average waiting time for a three-bedroom council house in the capital is now over three years.

Edinburgh City Council has confirmed that as of October 1 2020, there are 2,767 housing applicants who qualify for a three-bedroom house in the city, while the average time spent on the waiting list is 1,160 days.

Added to this, the council has revealed it will have built just 187 three-bedroomed properties, specifically for social rent, by the end of the year.

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Housing crisis is 'acute' says Councillor Chas Booth

The information was revealed via freedom of information request, submitted to Edinburgh City Council by whatdotheyknow.com user Katie Harvey.

In response to the figures, Morningside councillor Mandy Watt, Labour, who acts as the vice convener of the council’s housing, homelessness and fair work committee, said: “The Edinburgh Poverty Commission took a pretty comprehensive look at the housing situation, and basically house prices in Edinburgh are absolutely astronomical, there’s some of the highest prices in the country here.

“That means you have families trying to find more affordable housing.

“We only have 15 per cent council housing here in Edinburgh, compared to a 24 per cent Scottish average.

Ambitions house building plans: Councillor Mandy Watt

“We have one of the most ambitious house building programmes in the country but that is very much dependent on Scottish government grants.

“Without further government funding - whichever government that happens to be, and no doubt they’ll just blame each other - they’re just not providing enough.

“In the meantime, the most we can do is try to fill every house that becomes available as quickly as possible, but obviously with Covid everything was just stopped.

“We’re hoping that a change in legislation for short term lets will make more properties available for families to buy or rent.”

Forth councillor Jim Campbell, Conservative, also called for further government funding in the capital’s housing market, but added private sector investment would be crucial: “I think the main problem is the lack of capacity, there’s not enough housing.

“There’s probably not enough one bed houses, not enough two bed houses, and not enough three bedroom houses, but irrespective of the size there are just not enough of them.

“I think if politicians are serious about the challenges then we need to look at what we can do to encourage the building of houses.

“We’ve got to spend more money on building houses, more public money and more private money needs to go into housing.

“The only time we’ve managed to get house building as high as the post war period has been when public and private money has been flowing in.

“We’ve been allocated some Scottish government funding for housing, however, the Edinburgh Poverty Commission report makes absolutely clear that housing is the biggest single issue for people living in poverty.

“They are unflinching in their observation that the only way it can be solved is if the Scottish government allocates money to Edinburgh based on need, rather than population size.

“Most local authorities don’t have a shortage and we need a significant increase from the Scottish government.

“Our house building ambition will cease to happen next year if we don’t get more money.

“We’re also running out of land in Edinburgh, so we may need to relax some planning policy.”

Leith councillor Chas Booth, Green Party, added: "Nowhere in Scotland is the housing crisis more acute than in Edinburgh.

“And we know from last month's Poverty Commission report that it's what drives high levels of inequality and poverty in the capital.

"What we are seeing in 2020 is the consequence of reckless selling off of council homes over the last 35 years under Tory right to buy laws where larger homes were more attractive for sale.

“Many of these homes are now in the hands of private landlords who charge three times the rent.

"That is why Green councillors used last week's meeting of all councillors to press the leader on what he is doing to secure a new housing settlement from the Scottish government which allows the city to build far more of the affordable homes which are urgently needed."

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