A big problem caused by Margaret Thatcher that Brexit may make worse – Helen Martin

The current shortage of affordable housing was partly caused by Margaret Thatcher’s right-to-buy council houses scheme and Brexit may make the situation worse, as skilled EU construction workers leave the UK, writes Helen Martin.

Monday, 9th December 2019, 6:00 am
A prototype house for homeless people created by Josh Littlejohn's Social Bite charity

THE chronic lack of affordable housing and the difficulties of planning and council committees insisting builders and redevelopers take that on, led me to another contact, a property developer who does not want to be named.

It’s a complicated problem but the simple and logical answer is that any developer has to make a profit, once they’ve found the investment provision, paid all the costs for legal work, planning, architecture, specialist checks before any building starts with materials and staff, security, fittings, décor and everything else – a long process of cash outgoing with nothing coming in.

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And costs have gone up. Affordable housing is not an attractive proposition.

The Chartered Institute of Housing explained that the Scottish Government’s target was 50,000 new affordable homes by 2021 with 35 per cent for social rent.

They’ve made reasonable progress but a lot of that has been soaked up by the previous right-to-buy and old homes having to be demolished.

A big problem ahead could be Brexit with skilled staff leaving, funding reducing, and social landlords having to stop building.

And all that may affect the Government’s plan to spend billions on the target.

It’s now fair to say, the predictions about the damage of Margaret Thatcher’s right-to-buy scheme are still affecting our level of social housing, and Tory Brexit could add to it even more.

In a city like Edinburgh with such high property prices, that leads to more homelessness and poverty.