SNP should spend £1.3 billion for 'National Care Service' on affordable housing instead – John McLellan

The folly of SNP plans to fritter up to £1.3 billion on the bureaucratic centralisation of care services when there are other priorities is laid bare by a report to today’s Edinburgh Council housing committee, which warns that without a significant government cash injection its house-building programme will need to be halved.
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Last February, the authority agreed on the need for a £2.9bn, ten-year capital investment programme for new council houses and refurbishing the existing stock, but now that figure has soared to £3.5bn and the report spells out that the rise can only be met by increasing council house rents or a bigger government grant. The revenue programme has gone up from £1.2bn to £1.4bn and borrowing costs alone are set to hit nearly £4.2m a year, so without government intervention the aim of building 25,000 new affordable homes by 2033, will be further away than ever.

Although officers never admit it, the pace of construction continues to be well off target, with just 613 affordable homes under construction at the end of January and 1,055 in “design or pre-construction”, which means no-one will be moving into them any time soon. Anti-poverty campaigners agree the single most important factor is affordable housing supply and, as council rent rises have been capped at three per cent, maintaining even the slow building programme will only be possible with more Scottish Government money.

At least the SNP leadership candidates have all pledged to re-examine the care home plan, but they could go one better and scrap it altogether and redirect the budget to house-building.