As the last full week of the Holyrood election campaign draws to a close, Scottish Labour finally publish their manifesto and pledges a ‘return to party’s roots’. Despite a buoyant press launch, media sources suggest a leadership challenge may be on the cards after next week’s expected poor results for the party. Elsewhere, the Scottish Greens maintain the momentum on housing matters claiming there is a ‘housing crisis’ in Scotland. And a battle of potential shipyard job losses on the Clyde breaks out. All this and more in this week’s report…
Housing and Construction News
Scottish Labour Party launches its manifesto
The Labour party launched its manifesto this week, the last of the six main parties to do so and thus attracted criticism for being so late. An estimated one in six voters have already voted by post. The party’s plans for government have a strong focus on education including a pledge for a breakfast club in every school. The manifesto also opposes renewal of the Trident nuclear weapon system – subject to all existing jobs being retained – and fracking, and promises to replace the council tax with a ‘fairer’ alternative.
On housing matters, the party notes that “there are 150,000 households on local waiting lists for social housing — because there is simply not enough housing for people to rent at affordable prices” and in terms of specifics:
- We will build 60,000 affordable homes, with 45,000 of those for rent by councils, housing associations and cooperatives. These homes will be built to the highest standards of thermal insulation and at least 10% will be built to wheelchair accessibility standards. This will create jobs and help grow our economy.
- We will regulate private rents — capping rent increases, so rogue landlords can’t get away with charging rip-off rents. We’ll consult on introducing a Charter — similar to that in the social rented sector — to drive up standards in the private rented sector.
- We will ensure that, where a tenant requests it, the housing element (of Universal Credit) can be paid direct to social landlords, and that, for those that require it, the option is available to have Universal Credit paid fortnightly instead of monthly.
The full manifesto is available via this link:http://www.scottishlabour.org.uk/page/-/images/Manifesto%202016/Scottish%20Labour%20Manifesto%202016.pdf
Meanwhile, UK Labour criticising response to £1 bn housing investment
Responding to the announcement that the European Investment Bank is to invest £1 billion in social housing in the UK, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Housing and Planning, John Healey MP, said: “Conservative Ministers have slashed investment for new affordable housing, so this new European Investment Bank funding for 20,000 affordable homes is a vital contribution to tackling the country’s spiraling housing costs.”
Scottish Greens campaign on housing ‘crisis’ in Scotland
Green co-convenor Maggie Chapman highlighted the issue of cold homes during a campaign visit in Aberdeen.Ms Chapman said there was a “housing crisis” in Scotland, and said her party would push for a “radical programme of house building” putting affordable housing “at the top of the agenda”. She said: “Now is the time to create many more jobs in energy efficiency and low carbon industries and that must come with greater investment. Now is the time to end the scandal of cold, damp homes.”
The wider Holyrood Election Campaign
Scottish Chambers Chief Executive warns of impact of higher taxation
The Chief Executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce has warned that raising personal taxes in Scotland above the level of elsewhere in the UK will drive out talent and deter investment. Liz Cameron issued the warning during an election campaign which has seen the SNP, Labour and the Lib Dems outline economic policies that will see Scottish taxpayers pay more per head than south of the Border.
Final leaders’ debate of Holyrood campaign – Sunday night
The final leaders’ debate of the 2016 Holyrood campaign will take place this Sunday evening, at Hopetoun House near Edinburgh. The leaders of the five parties already represented at Holyrood (i.e. no UKIP) will take part in the televised debate to be chaired by BBC commentator Sarah Smith.
Challenge for Scottish Labour leader?
Media reports suggest that Labour’s election campaign has descended into chaos – as senior party figures appear to have briefed against leader Kezia Dugdale. Unnamed sources are quoted saying former Deputy Leader Anas Sarwar, an MP until last May and certain to be elected a Glasgow list MSP next week, is planning to launch a leadership challenge in the aftermath of the election.
Parties tussle over potential job losses on the Clyde
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has called for “cast iron assurances” jobs will not be lost at Clyde shipyards because of contract delays after unions at BAE Systems have warned of possible delays to funding for the Royal Navy’s new frigates. Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson insisted there was no change to the timetable, whilst Labour said it was vital that promises were kept. The Lib Dems called for an end to uncertainty without offering any alternative options.
EU Referendum – Weekly Update
- Anti-EU campaigners rally against President Obama’s comments, made during his last visit to the UK as President, urging the country not to pull out of the EU.
- A new poll suggests that support for an EU Leave vote is 8% higher amongst Scots who voted Yes to Independence. The figures are: Yes – 39% (for Brexit) and No – 31%, with the remainder Don’t Knows.
- The Scottish Affairs Committee at Westminster is to hold two evidence sessions to examine the EU referendum and its impact on Scotland. On 9 May the committee will hear from key industries such as NFU Scotland and Universities Scotland. It will then take evidence from in/out groups and UK ministers on 25 May. The MPs will also consider the repercussions for the future of the UK should individual nations vote for different outcomes.
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