We can't just let Edinburgh become a playground for the rich - Susan Dalgety

It’s astonishing what you can learn while watching ‘Escape to the Country’.

Monday, 29th November 2021, 7:00 am
We can't let Edinburgh become just a posh playground, writes Susan Dalgety. PIC: Pixabay

Did you know that Inveraray Castle, seat of the Duke of Argyll and headquarters of the Campbell clan, has the highest ceiling in Scotland? The walls of its Armoury Hall are a breathtaking 21 metres high.

Even more astounding was the snippet I gleaned a few days ago as a woman was searching for a rural retreat in Perth and Kinross. According to the presenter, house prices have risen 12.5 per cent in Scotland in the last 12 months.

This may be good news for people downsizing, but for families looking for a bigger home, or first-time buyers trying to get on the property ladder, it is a disaster.

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According to an online mortgage guide, a first-time buyer on the median wage of £25,600 a year would need a deposit of around £30,000 to get a 30-year loan on an average one-bedroom flat in the west of Edinburgh. The maximum mortgage anyone can get these days – unless their loan is guaranteed by the bank of mum and dad – is 95 per cent.

Lothian Buses employs 2,500 people – one of the biggest employers in the region. Its qualified drivers earn £12.60 an hour. A social care worker will be lucky to make £10.50 an hour, and retail staff the same.

The very people who keep our economy moving and our society safe are among the poorest paid and are increasingly priced out of the housing market. Even renting is beyond reach for many, with one-bedroom flats in the capital costing around £750 a month and more. And flat-shares are just as expensive, with 4-bedroom apartments attracting rents of £1,900 a month.

According to a debate in parliament last Thursday, Edinburgh loses out on its fair share of council funding for affordable housing. Lothian MSP Sue Webber pointed out that while the capital is home to 9.7 per cent of the population, it only gets 7.3 per cent of the housing allocation.

Unless there is a significant increase in cash for affordable housing, Edinburgh will end up as a playground for the well-off, with essential workers forced to live many miles away, priced out of their own city and young people forced to live with their parents well into their thirties.

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