​Holyrood must face up to housing emergency - Foysol Choudhury

Foysol Choudhury MSPFoysol Choudhury MSP
Foysol Choudhury MSP
​​In November 2023, Edinburgh Council declared a housing emergency. A report by Shelter Scotland on homelessness estimated that in 2022/23, 3261 Edinburgh households were assessed as homeless or threatened by homelessness - a worrying 28 per cent rise from the previous year.

To help tackle this, we could bring private sector empty homes back into use - something which Edinburgh Council’s Empty Homes Officer is attempting.

As of February 2024, there were a reported 6898 empty homes across Edinburgh. The SNP Government’s lack of sustained, sufficient funding has meant that Edinburgh houses which had easily fixable problems and could have been brought into use by the council, had there been sufficient funding, now have larger structural issues.

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The SNP’s lack of funding to the council for the upkeep of communities and social housing projects has led to the decay of local communities - raising alarm bells over the feasibility of the Scottish Government’s Housing to 2040 strategy, which aims to deliver safe, good quality and affordable homes for all.

Homelessness is a growing crisis in Scotland (Picture: Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty Images)Homelessness is a growing crisis in Scotland (Picture: Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty Images)
Homelessness is a growing crisis in Scotland (Picture: Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty Images)

The need for the large quantity of empty houses in Edinburgh to be transformed into low-carbon households is clear and should be a priority alongside new housing developments to tackle the lack of social housing.

The onset of the Ukraine crisis led to a rise in refugees living in emergency accommodation, exposing the long-existing shortcomings of the SNP Government to provide sustained funding to tackle the housing crisis.

Their 17 year long lack of accountability in the housing crisis has been evident. Instead of providing sufficient funding to local councils for the renovation of empty houses, they have instead provided chronic underfunding, forcing the council’s hand with budget cuts and facilitating worrying urban decay across Edinburgh's communities.

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A focus on sufficient, sustained funding for community and housing regeneration by the SNP Government could have solved the housing crisis before it began, however, this oversight to adequately fund local authorities has had a profound negative effect.

I implore the SNP Government to increase funding to local authorities, including Edinburgh Council, and to accept accountability for their repeated failure to adequately address the housing crisis.

Foysol Choudhury is Labour MSP for Lothian Region

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