Tories hit out at rise in number of disabled people on Scottish council housing waiting lists

The number of disabled people on council housing waiting lists has risen by around a quarter in the past year, the Scottish Conservatives have claimed.
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The rise has been labelled “unacceptable” by the party, with their analysis containing a claim that one person in Falkirk has been on the waiting list since November 1975 – just over 45 years.

Overall the Conservatives claim more than 26,000 disabled people are on council housing waiting lists across Scotland as of March, up by more than 5,000 since summer last year, based on figures from Freedom of Information requests.

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According to figures from the party, the average wait time for someone to be suitably housed was 642 days, or just under two years.

The Scottish Conservatives have criticised a rise in the number of disabled people on the council housing waiting list. Picture: PAThe Scottish Conservatives have criticised a rise in the number of disabled people on the council housing waiting list. Picture: PA
The Scottish Conservatives have criticised a rise in the number of disabled people on the council housing waiting list. Picture: PA

However, the SNP said it had built almost 100,000 affordable homes since 2007 and pledged 100,000 more in the next decade.

One SNP council also hit out at the “totally cynical and disingenuous” use of statistics, accusing the Tories of “comparing apples with pears and frankly come up with plums”.

Scottish Conservative equalities spokesman Jeremy Balfour said: “This is very sorry reading and the buck stops with the SNP Government. They’ve been too busy plotting a second independence referendum to get the houses built for some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

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“The statistics are hugely worrying. It is completely unacceptable for the council housing list to have shot up by more than a quarter in less than a year.

“We’ll sort out this situation by building 60,000 new homes, two-thirds of which will be in the social rented sector.”

Kate Campbell, housing convener at the SNP-run Edinburgh Council, which has the highest number of disabled people on the waiting list with more than 6,000 waiting for housing, hit out at the Conservatives’ use of statistics.

She said 329 people who need housing to meet their needs are on the waiting list in Edinburgh, a reduction of 162 from 2017, and claimed the 6,000-plus figure was due to ‘self-declarations’ of disability, not those in need of new, suitable housing.

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Ms Campbell said: “The Tories regularly put in this FOI, and it appears they either have no understanding of these figures or this is totally cynical and disingenuous. As I said the last time, they’ve compared apples with pears and frankly come up with plums.

“Unlike the Tories who sold off council housing, creating the pressure on housing and the large waiting lists, this SNP/Labour council administration is doing everything we can to build back the number of council homes.”

Responding to the claim about one disabled person waiting more than 45 years for a council house, Falkirk Council said the individual had never been assessed for their needs and has never bid for any house.

A spokesperson said: “Falkirk Council operates a choice-based lettings system based on housing need and relies on individuals bidding for a council house.

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“In October 2020 we introduced an amendment to the allocations policy that if a band three or band four applicant has not placed a bid within a year, their application will be cancelled as we would assume they are not actively looking for a house.”

A spokesperson for the SNP said it would introduce a new housing standard that would include accessibility to remove barriers to housing for disabled people.

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