Scottish Greens are making housing crisis worse by putting £2.5 billion of investment at risk – John McLellan

This week First Minster Humza Yousaf claimed: “We want everyone in Scotland to have an affordable home that meets their needs.” But unfortunately a new report shows his government’s housing policies are achieving the opposite.
Investors are being put off building new homes in Scotland (PIcture: Chris Ison/PA)Investors are being put off building new homes in Scotland (PIcture: Chris Ison/PA)
Investors are being put off building new homes in Scotland (PIcture: Chris Ison/PA)

This column has previously pointed out how the Scottish Government’s rent freeze and rent cap, championed by the Greens’ co-leader and tenants' rights minister Patrick Harvie, was wrecking the build-to-rent market, and the study for the British Property Federation by consultants Rettie has put a figure on it, a staggering £2.5 billion of investment now viewed as at risk.

In the short term, controls keep rents for current tenants low, which is grand for them, but it means fewer new homes are built which will lengthen waiting lists and eventually rents will rise anyway. Completion rates are already amongst the slowest in the UK, while places like Salford are racing ahead, and of the 14 major investors surveyed, none regarded the Scottish market as very attractive.

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“The Scottish Government needs to turn down the anti-landlord rhetoric. It needs to show that investment is welcome and not shunned,” said one. Four said Scotland was un-investable, three of them with current Scottish assets. “We are not planning on doing anything more really,” one said. “It is really frustrating as our UK model should work well in many parts of Scotland.”

And a third condemned the Scottish Government’s “lack of transparency and engagement”. SNP members might agree. But one thing is transparent: governments desperate for investment shouldn’t give wilful economy-wreckers responsibility for services which rely on it.

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