Scottish Government to declare national housing emergency

The Scottish Government is set to declare a national housing emergency later today, as announced by Social Justice Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville during a Labour debate on the ongoing crisis.

Somerville attributed the crisis to a combination of factors beyond the Scottish Government’s control, including a decade of UK austerity measures, soaring inflation, increased cost of living, and labour shortages resulting from Brexit.

In her address, Somerville will urge the UK Government and local councils to collaborate on addressing what she describes as “one of the defining issues of a generation.”

She highlighted the struggles many in Scotland face, either from high housing costs or the difficulty in finding suitable housing.

“We will continue to do everything we can with the powers at our disposal to make progress – but truly tackling the housing emergency will rely on a joint approach between UK, Scottish and local government,” she said.

Five Scottish local authorities have already declared a touring emergency including West Dunbartonshire, Argyll and Bute, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Fife, in response to escalating homelessness and insufficient housing supply.

In light of the Government’s declaration, The Scottish and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers’ Federation (SNIPEF) has called for the immediate implementation of a national retrofit plan.

Fiona Hodgson, chief executive of SNIPEF, emphasised the potential of this plan to utilise vacant properties across Scotland, transforming them into energy-efficient homes and addressing both housing and environmental challenges.

“Revitalising these empty properties through a national retrofit strategy is not just about providing more homes; it’s a critical step towards addressing our dual crises of housing and climate change,” Hodgson explained.

She advocated for a united effort from various sectors to support this initiative, which she believes offers a sustainable and inclusive approach to housing and environmental policy.

Hodgson also stressed the need for a more efficient use of Government resources and the leveraging of industry expertise to tackle the crisis effectively.