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19/10/2015

Sturgeon pledges to create 50,000 affordable homes

Words: Laura Edgar

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has committed to building 50,000 affordable houses in Scotland if the Scottish National Party (SNP) wins a third term next May.

The early election pledge - announced at the SNP Conference - is worth £30 billion, said Sturgeon.

Speaking at the party conference last week, Sturgeon said in this Parliament the government has a target of building 30,000 affordable homes and “we are on track to meet it”. But she continued: “We must go further and we will.”

Sturgeon said the SNP manifesto will set out “radical, ambitious and progressive policies” to make Scotland “even stronger”.

One of the biggest issues of the election campaign will be housing, and Sturgeon said, “our plans must be affordable”.

“If we are re-elected next May, our target in the next Parliament will be to build at least 50,000 new affordable homes.

“That commitment - worth more than £3 billion - is a mark of the ambition we have for this country," she said.

Welcoming the pledge, Peter Howden, chair of Glasgow and West of Scotland Forum of Housing Associations, said the announcement is an indication that housing investment is a “greater political priority” than it has been for a long time, “possibly even a generation or more”, particularly considering it has come before the outcome of the UK comprehensive spending review “in which Scotland is expecting a big cut in its block grant”.

“The indication that more than £3 billion will be invested in the 50,000 homes suggests that the per unit subsidy for the social housing part of the programme will be in line with the recommendations of the Subsidy Working Group, though actual confirmation of this would be very welcome,” he said.

“A programme of this scale should mean that quality is not compromised and, critically, that a diverse range of providers will be able to play their part. This includes community-controlled housing associations, some of whom have difficult sites in their patch which may be more expensive to develop.

“It should also mean that in areas where both the council and local housing associations are keen to build new homes, there is sufficient funding for all providers to play a proactive part in the programme.

“We also expect to see that funding of this scale will include a new programme of comprehensive tenemental improvement which brings poor private sector housing into affordable housing supply,” added Howden.

Image courtesy of the First Minister of Scotland

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