Scottish Greens scare off £700m of investment in new houses despite 47,000 homeless people – John McLellan

Well done, the Green Party. Thanks to their co-leader and Scottish Government tenants’ rights minister Patrick Harvie, some dreadful capitalists have been prevented from milking the poor of exorbitant rent money.

Scotland needs more homes to help tackle homelessness (Picture: Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty Images)
Scotland needs more homes to help tackle homelessness (Picture: Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty Images)

No matter that thousands won’t be able to find a permanent place to live any time soon and will be stuck in temporary accommodation ─ like some 21,000 households ─ what matters is that these purveyors of misery have been stopped dead in their tracks. They’ll just have to take the £700m they were planning to spend on housing developments in Scotland somewhere else. Ha, you showed ‘em, Patrick.

It is, of course, no laughing matter that the Scottish Government’s rent freeze, now to be replaced by a cap, has caused £700m of private sector housing investment to be paused or scrapped, according to analysis by the Scottish Property Federation. The SPF fears the rented sector might now miss out on around 4,000 new homes, more energy efficient than most of the existing stock, which was what the Scottish Government was warned might happen.

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Ironically, reducing investment in new buildings and refurbishments was the argument used by Edinburgh SNP councillors to oppose a council rent freeze during the pandemic, but their MSPs have gone along with a far more draconian and widespread approach. At least the Greens are consistent.

But with just short of 47,000 people registered homeless, 14,000 of them children, only in a Green world is scaring away investment a desirable outcome. And people wonder why purpose-built student accommodation is a popular alternative investment?