Housebuilding figures released on Tuesday saw a flurry of political activity, resulting in one of the biggest housing stories of the last few weeks. Scottish Government figures illustrated the SNP Government had exceeded its target to deliver 30,000 affordable homes over the course of this parliament by the end of last year and that Scotland has the highest housebuilding rate of any UK nation. But not every party agreed.
Elsewhere, the UK Budget dominated the political debate as well as the ongoing EU referendum debate. These stories are others are included within this week’s report.
Housing and construction news
SNP claims Scotland is ‘leading the UK’ on housebuilding
A news release issued by the SNP this week claimed that the Scottish Government had exceeded its target to deliver 30,000 affordable homes over the course of this parliament by the end of last year and that Scotland has the highest housebuilding rate of any UK nation. The figures found that in the year to September 2015 there has been a four per cent rise in the number of homes completed, across all sectors, compared to the previous year. This resulted in Scotland having the highest completion rate of any UK nation over this period: 30 homes per 10,000 people, compared to 25 in England, 21 in Wales and 28 in Northern Ireland. However, opposition parties were quick to respond to figures.
Scottish Liberal Democrat housing spokesperson Jim Hume MSP criticised the SNP and claimed the new statistics showed it has missed its target for socially-rented homes by 10,000. Scottish Labour also issued a statement commenting on the figures. Commenting on the housebuilding statistics Scottish Labour Communities spokesperson Ken Macintosh MSP said: “everybody in Scotland deserves a safe, warm and affordable home but the SNP government turned a housing shortage into a housing crisis and they are only attempting to reverse that damage now, after nearly a decade in office.”
- Private sector breakdown: Between July and September 2015, 3,126 private sector led homes were completed; 20% up on the same quarter in 2014. This brings the total for the year to end September 2015 to 12,125 – 2% (217 homes) higher than the 11,908 completions in the previous year.
- Social housing: there were 895 social housing completions between July and September 2015; 23% more than the same quarter in 2014.
SNP party members back national rent controls
Delegates attending last weekend’s SNP Spring Conference voted to support a resolution committing the party to supporting the introduction of national rent controls for all tenants. The proposal called for leaders within the party to go beyond the local rent controls already outlined in the Private (Housing) Tenancies Bill. Later in the week, The Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill was passed by parliament. It aims to bring simpler tenancies, offer stability and security to the 700,000 tenants who call the private rented sector home, and ensure predictability over rent increases.
EU Referendum – Weekly Update
- Scots LD leader Willie Rennie MSP claims Britain leaving the UK would put the future of the country at risk
- Sources leak the apparent news that the Queen backs the UK leaving the EU
- Out vote ‘could weaken Nato’, claims Lt-Gen Ben Hodges, head of the US Army in Europe,
- CBI survey suggests most members favour staying in Europe
General political news
Chancellor George Osborne announced during his Budget statement that he would cut taxes for North Sea oil operators in a bid to boost the beleaguered industry. In another move of particular importance to Scotland, he announced that discussions were already taking place on Edinburgh’s £1 billion City Deal – with another for Dundee likely to happen as well.
Almost three quarters of the 688,000 crimes committed in Scotland last year were related to property. The findings appeared in the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS) for 2014-15.
Scottish employment rises
Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures for November 2015 to January 2016 illustrated that Scotland’s overall employment rate increased to 74.5 per cent with around 2,631,000 Scots now in employment.
John Finnie (Independent, Highlands and Islands): £10 Million Expansion of the Wick District Heating Scheme—That the Parliament welcomes the announcement by the UK Green Investment Bank and Equitix that they will commit £10 million toward the expansion of Wick district heating scheme; understands that the scheme provides heat and power to the Old Pulteney distillery and heating to other customers, including Caithness General Hospital, the Wick Assembly Rooms, residences owned by the Cairn Housing Association and approximately 200 other domestic properties; believes that the announcement will help secure the future of the scheme in its provision of efficient, green and cost-effective heating, and looks forward to its forthcoming expansion plans.
Margaret Burgess (SNP, Housing Minister): Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill—That the Parliament agrees that the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill be passed.
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