Housing must be at heart of political agenda, say 17-strong coalition, as election week kicks off
29 April 2007
A 17-strong coalition of organisations from across Scotland have signed an open letter - as election week kicks off - demanding that housing for Scotland's people be placed at the heart of the political agenda.
The coalition - representing business groups, church groups, trade unions, environmental groups, and the health and housing sectors - have come together to reinforce how central housing is to people's lives as Scotland goes to the polls this week.
Politicians must realise that Scotland's housing crisis cannot be ignored , with over 200,000 people on house waiting lists in 2006, over 8,000 homeless households in temporary accommodation in March 2006 - and first time buyers finding it nearly 65 per cent harder  to get onto the property ladder in Scotland than 10 years ago.
The organisations are: Shelter Scotland; SFHA; Chartered Institute of Housing; Scottish Churches Housing Action; UNISON; GMB; Royal College of Nursing; Scottish Rural Property and Business Association (SRPBA); Scottish Centre for Public Policy; Citizens Advice Service; WWF; Church of Scotland; Friends of the Earth; Scottish Chambers of Commerce; Homes for Scotland; Money Advice Scotland, The Royal Town Planning Institute in Scotland (RTPI).
Archie Stoddart, Director, Shelter Scotland, said: 'Housing has not had the attention it deserves during this election period. We have come together with these 16 other organisations to reinforce to politicians and the public that housing is central to everyone's lives. Whoever leads Scotland through its next term cannot afford to ignore the problem that is Scotland's housing crisis. 2007 presents our best opportunity to increase investment in housing and build 30,000 affordable homes for rent over the next three years. Housing is central to the lives of all Scots.' 
Here follows a selection of quotes from organisations signed up to the statement and the statement itself:
Richard Leonard, Scotland Political Officer, GMB said: 'Investment in housing means investment in socially useful jobs. It should form a central part of the ambition to secure full and fulfilling employment. The GMB is pleased to support the campaign because our purpose is not just to improve the standard of living of our members at work: but to improve their quality of life both inside and outside the workplace.'
Morag Mylne, Convener of the Church and Society Council, Church of Scotland, said: 'Few things begin to have as fundamental an impact on the quality of life and on the relationships within the household, the neighborhood and the community as the availability of suitable housing of a satisfactory standard. The quality of housing available to the significant percentage of people who cannot afford to buy their own home is one of the litmus tests of the morality of a nation.'
Liz Cameron, Executive Director, Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: 'It is important when we talk about economic growth for Scotland we fully understand the bigger picture and the importance of ensuring we have a supportive infrastructure. Affordable, suitable accommodation plays a key part in employers' ability to recruit and retain staff. There have been thousands of inward skills coming into Scotland, without which, many of our sectors would have been struggling. These are talented, highly skilled individuals. It is critical that we have a housing stock now, and planning for the future, to ensure future investment and location of new business.'
Theresa Fyffe, Director, RCN Scotland, said: 'Poor housing standards affect the health of thousands of families across Scotland. Tonight many parents will be forced to put their children to bed in damp and unhealthy conditions. This will inevitably have an impact on their health and well-being. The lack of affordable housing is also preventing many nurses from living near their place of work. I am concerned that some NHS employers may find it difficult to recruit staff in the future as more and more towns and villages become too expensive. We must achieve the aim of having the right houses in the right areas to meet the needs of Scotland's workforce.'
Dr Richard Dixon, Director, WWF Scotland, said: 'The quality of our homes is a vital issue for people and the environment. Housing in Scotland is responsible for around a fifth of our climate change emissions. Although there is now lots of exciting talk about making new homes zero-carbon, we need much more effort on the buildings we already have so we can make them affordable and warm at the same time as reducing their emissions as much as possible.'
Yvonne Gallacher, CEO, Money Advice Scotland, said: 'It is imperative that there is more affordable, available housing for rent. Not everyone is able to sustain a mortgage or indeed the running costs. In many instances this could have an impact on individual financial health/debt avoidance. This is currently the case, especially given the increasing house prices and the lack of first time buying opportunities in Scotland. There are few or no signs of this changing and action needs to be taken.'
The statement reads: 'We believe a good home is the foundation for the well being of Scotland's people in so many areas - health, education, a sustainable environment, community cohesion and a thriving economy.
- People living in good housing enjoy better health. 1 in 6 families with children face the problem of living in damp homes.
- Good housing greatly increases the chances of a successful education, but overcrowding or time spent in temporary accommodation will reduce educational chances for many children.
- Good housing also benefits the environment. Energy efficient homes will cut fuel poverty and help build a sustainable Scotland.
- Scotland's skilled workforce and Fresh Talent need access to affordable housing. An economically mobile workforce means we must have the right houses in the right areas.
It concludes: 'We believe much has been done but there is still a long way to go. Housing must be placed high on the political agenda as we approach the elections. We call on all political parties to put accessible, affordable and sustainable housing at the heart of their political agenda.'
Notes to Editors
- Contact details are available for those people quoted in the press release above are:
- For Archie Stoddart, Shelter Scotland, contact Christina Cran on 0844 515 2442.
- Richard Leonard, GMB, 07703 465447.
- Morag Mylne, Church of Scotland, 07789 484096.
- Liz Cameron, Scottish Chambers of Commerce, 07801 500 589
- For Theresa Fyffe, RCN Scotland, contact Ryan Norton, Parliamentary Officer, on 0131 662 6173, or 07764 514 258
- For Dr Richard Dixon, WWF Scotland, contact press officer, Clair Munro, 01350 728200 in office hours or 07771 818677.
- Yvonne Gallacher, Money Advice Scotland, 07930 339216.
- For a full breakdown of parties' policies on housing, see www.shelter.org.uk/manifesto
- Shelter Scotland - along with other housing organisations - is calling for 30,000 affordable rented homes for Scotland through this year's comprehensive spending review. For more information on this, visit the media room at www.shelter.org.uk/csr_media
- The ROOF Affordability Index - published exclusively in Shelter's ROOF magazine and devised by Professor Steve Wilcox of York University - showed it is nearly 65 per cent harder for first time buyers to climb onto the property ladder than it was ten years ago.