Whenever asked about the housing crisis we face in Edinburgh, Edinburgh Council talks about its plans to build 20,000 “affordable” homes between 2017 and 2027.
So Year 1 done, how is that going? In answer to a question at last week’s council meeting we learn that draft figures for the year ended March 2018 show a total of 745 affordable completions. That’s under half what is needed annually. In 2016/17 there were 1176 affordable homes built. So we are going backwards while house prices and private rents continue to soar making homes even more unaffordable.
We have also seen a great deal of publicity about the really sharp end of the crisis, the increase in rough sleeping, and the 600 people at any one time in poor quality bed & breakfast accommodation. On top of that there are at least 600 households in temporary lets, on average staying there for nearly a year.
For many of those who apply to the council because they face homelessness (more than 3000 applications are accepted each year) the need is for an affordable home. The vast majority need properly affordable housing let at “social rent” levels. Yet of the 745 completions reported today, only 229 were for social rent. That is actually less than last year when the total was 283.
Properly affordable housing needs subsidy, with the highest subsidy needed for social rented homes. The SNP Scottish Government, which has now been in power for 11 years, provides the grant subsidy. Resource levels must be substantially increased or else all these warm words about tackling the housing crisis will remain that – just words.
Sheila Gilmore, St Catherine’s Place, Edinburgh