Blog: Why homes must be at the heart of the debate



Fiona King
Fiona King

With less than 100 days until the Holyrood Election on May 6 there is a critical, albeit small, window of opportunity to influence the nation’s politicians and the political debate, writes Fiona King, campaigns & public affairs manager at Shelter Scotland.

In the context of austerity and budget cuts, constitutional debates between Westminster and Holyrood and national issues such as immigration and defence dominating headlines, it can be hard to get real, concrete, domestic policies heard above the noise.

But with 150,000 waiting for a home in Scotland, more than 30,000 homeless applications last year, 1 in 4 households in the private rented sector housing children with families and 845,000 households living in fuel poverty across the country – there is an abundance of reasons why housing must be at the heart of the political debate in 2016.

That is why we have launched our Manifesto for Homes 2016.

Shelter Scotland is calling on all politicians to put homes at the heart of the political debate in the run up to the Holyrood election in May. We’re asking politicians to support four key commitments to:

  1. Deliver a home for everyone in Scotland
  2. Meet the needs of every homeless person in Scotland
  3. Make private renting right
  4. Put housing at the heart of social justice and tackling child poverty

A good home is central to our wellbeing both as individuals and collectively as a nation. From improving our health outcomes to raising educational attainment, reducing reoffending and tackling inequality – all of these depend on whether or not people in Scotland have a decent home.

Does it matter what commitments are made to reduce inequalities if people don’t have access to a safe, secure, affordable home? Does it matter what money is ploughed into new education initiatives if homeless children miss, on average 55 school days a year? Does it matter what promises are made around public heath if 1 million people are living in absolute poverty? We need to turn voters’ traditional election priorities on their heads and ask, if we fixed housing, could we achieve those priorities – potentially at less cost to the public purse? And we know people care.

An overwhelming majority of people in Scotland say they are worried about the housing crisis today and what the future holds for their children tomorrow.  New research from Ipsos MORI Scotland on behalf of Shelter Scotland, shows that 90 per cent of respondents think it will be harder for their children to buy or rent a home in the future than it is today.  And 87 per cent of respondents agree that unless we build many more new affordable homes, we will never be able to meaningfully tackle the country’s housing problems.

So housing has been making its way up the political agenda as more and more people are impacted by the nation’s housing crisis.  Over the past few months there have been some encouraging commitments from politicians and it is extremely positive to see housing finally have a seat at the table.

And with our Manifesto for Homes, over the next few months we’ll be campaigning hard to make sure it stays there.

Read the Manifesto for Homes and show your support.



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