Readers' letters: Housing is answer to our falling birth rate

Brexit, migration and the cost of living may be among the reasons why Scots are having fewer children, but the bottom line is decent housing is out of the reach of most couples.

With both parents needing to work, couples will at best delay or at worst not have children. And if they do, I'm sure the stress caused by tight budgets and juggling time is one of the main reasons for the child mental health epidemic.

The mortgage on a £200k, three-bedroom "affordable" home is around £800 a month - and likely to increase. Someone on an average £25k per year would have around £1600 left each month after tax, NI and a pension contribution, leaving around £800 per month for food, baby stuff, council tax, clothing - overdraft territory, and looming catastrophe if they lose their job. That's if they can scrape together a £10k deposit.

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So the choice is to wait or for both to work. Assuming there are no grandparents willing to do five days per week of childminding and the parents can't manage their shifts, the cost of childcare is around £60 per day, or £1200 per month per child for the first three years until government childcare payments are available, leaving a second partner on the same pay scale around £400 per month to fund the overheads of working such as lunch, clothing and transport.

Is it any wonder young couples think twice about having kids?

The excellent BBC Scotland documentary Priced Out (available on the the BBC iPlayer ) is a devastating critique of the Scottish Government’s failure to act on helping families with funding, planning legislation reform and failure to adopt some of the successful first time buyer programmes in England.

They don't need a £25k questionnaire to find out why couples aren't having babies. The answer is staring them in the face: get more, good, cheaper houses built.

Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven.

Child abuse

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The added horror in the payment of £1.4 million in damages to a man (AB) who claimed to have been abused by Christian Brothers monks in Catholic boarding school St Ninian's in Falkland, is the further agony to which he was subjected when they tried to have the case thrown out on a legal technicality. They even deployed a psycho-logist to argue AB’s memory could be lying to him!

You might have hoped that any genuinely repentant institution would have unhesitatingly thrown open its doors to a full police investigation and done its utmost to compensate with grace and decency.

Moreover the Catholic Church continues to be funded to run schools where, with impunity, it can impose its own special brand of relationship and sex education.

Neil Barber, Edinburgh Secular Society.

Wildcat woes

The European energy company Vattenfall has plans for a 156MW wind project in Argyll and Bute, and the company concedes that this project will directly impact five wildcat territories.

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The Clashindarroch forest in that area contains the highest density of wildcats in Scotland, and Vattenfall concede that their wind farm expansion would have a direct impact on five wildcat territories, resulting in the displacement of 20 per cent of the world population.

Despite acknowledging this inevitable result of their proposed plans, Vattenfall intend to proceed with their planned wind farm expansion. The Scottish public should be fully informed about this plan and the impact it will have on our iconic wildcats.

Carolyn Taylor, Broughty Ferry.

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