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Holyrood must act to ‘save lives’ from homelessness, says Tory MSP

Miles Briggs has hit out at the state of the housing situation in Scotland (Jane Barlow/PA)
Miles Briggs has hit out at the state of the housing situation in Scotland (Jane Barlow/PA)

The Scottish Parliament must act to “save lives” from homelessness, Tory MSP Miles Briggs has warned.

Leading an opposition debate in Holyrood, Mr Briggs took aim at the Scottish Government, claiming policies were making the housing situation worse.

“The housing emergency in Scotland has never been about houses,” he said.

“It’s about people.

Miles Briggs
Miles Briggs led the debate in Holyrood (Jane Barlow/PA)

“It’s about the young family renting a rundown flat wondering if they’ll ever be able to afford a home of their own, it’s about the record number of children in Scotland today living in emergency, temporary accommodation, forced to change schools every time that they move.

“It’s about a failure of the SNP/Green Government to actually meet their affordable home targets and it’s very much about the need for a Scottish Government that, at the very least, acknowledges the housing emergency and for an all-government approach to start developing the solutions we desperately need.”

The Tory MSP added: “It is time for this SNP/Green Government to pause and to reflect on the fact that Scotland is facing a housing emergency and for this Parliament to act to save lives and also to work to give everyone the safe home that they deserve.”

A freedom of information request from the Scottish Tories last year found almost 100,000 children were members of families on social housing waiting lists, while the most recent figures found almost 14,000 households were in temporary accommodation on March 31 last year with almost 29,000 people assessed as being homeless in 2021-22.

In written evidence to the Social Justice Committee last week, Shelter Scotland – one of the country’s leading homelessness charities – said it was “deeply concerned” by the £112.8 million cut to the housing capital budget proposed by the Scottish Government in its spending plans for next year.

Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison said Mr Briggs’ omission in his speech of the cost-of-living crisis, which she contended had been caused by decisions taken at Westminster, “tells the chamber everything they need to know about the motivation for this debate”.

“It is a national priority of this Scottish Government to tackle homelessness, end rough sleeping and transform temporary housing,” she said.

“I’m proud that this country has some of the strongest homelessness legislation in the world for people experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness, and we’re going further.”

Ms Robison went on to say the Scottish Government would enshrine the right to housing in its forthcoming human rights Bill and pointed to the decision last week to introduce duties for public bodies and landlords to prevent homelessness.

Scottish Lib Dem MSP Willie Rennie said the Scottish Government’s plan was a “spaghetti soup”.

“The reality is, we’ve got a crisis, and the slick presentation of policy does not build any new homes,” he said.

Meanwhile, figures released on Tuesday show 20% fewer new homes were started by the housebuilding sector in the past year compared to pre-pandemic levels.