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Warnings ignored for too long Shelter Scotland tells MSPs

Posted 01 Feb 2024

The Scottish Government has been ignoring warnings on the severity of the housing emergency for more than a year MSPs were told today. 

Speaking at this morning’s meeting of the Scottish Parliament’s Social Justice and Social Security Committee, Shelter Scotland Assistant Director Gordon MacRae said that Ministers had chosen to cut housing budgets in full knowledge that it would lead to increased homelessness. 

His comments came ahead of a Holyrood debate on committees’ pre-budget scrutiny. 

In its pre-budget report, the Social Justice and Social Security Committee said eradication of homelessness “needs to be seen as a priority” to seriously tackle poverty [1], while the Finance Committee highlighted the “significant concerns” expressed by witnesses regarding the significant cuts to the housing budget implemented last year.[2] 

In its latest budget, described by Finance Minister Shona Robison as ‘values led’, the Scottish Government slashed the housing budget by 26%. [3] 

Shelter Scotland Assistant Director, Gordon MacRae, said: 

“Soon, MSPs will be asked to consider a budget which implements brutal cuts to the housing budget during an unprecedented housing emergency. 

“That housing emergency is being driven by a lack of social homes, and while the housing minister is willing to say the right things the Scottish Government must be judged on actions not words. 

“The pace of delivering new social homes has slowed to a crawl, the budget has been slashed which will inevitably slow delivery even further, and there is no evidence of a plan to change that. 

“Voices from across the housing sector, including ourselves at Shelter Scotland, the Scottish Housing Regulator, and local authorities have been warning that the situation is beyond critical for over a year now so ministers can’t plead ignorance. 

“With the budget process about to resume, unless something radically changes, the only conclusion we can reasonably draw is the current Scottish Government strategy is to let homelessness rise to fund other projects and leave cash-strapped councils to foot the bill.”