Housing charity Shelter Scotland today (Tuesday) has written to the Secretary of State for Scotland, Jim Murphy, to urge him to press the Chancellor of the Exchequer to use his Pre-Budget Report to help Scottish Ministers speed up the building of affordable homes to rent.
In his letter to Jim Murphy, Director of Shelter Scotland Graeme Brown, makes the case for accelerated investment from 2011-12 into the 2010-11 budget, through the upcoming Pre-Budget Report.
But Mr Brown also makes clear to Mr Murphy that he will continue to press Scottish senior ministers to make housing investment a higher priority “within” the overall Scottish Budget.
Mr Brown’s letter describes how spending on the affordable housing investment programme in Scotland will fall by £204 million between this year (2009-10) and next (2010-11), as outlined in the draft Scottish Budget in September. He writes: “This is partly as a result of Scottish ministers’ decisions to accelerate capital funding from 2010-11 into 2008-09, and 2009-10, echoing similar measures taken by UK Ministers.
“In the meantime, I have met – and will continue to meet – with senior ministers in Scotland to press the case for housing investment to be a higher priority within the Scottish budget. But there also seems to me to be a compelling case for accelerating spending from 2011-12 budget into the 2010-11 budget, at the very least to make up for the deficit which has now opened up.”
The “compelling case” centres around keeping jobs in a construction sector that continues to shed them; that housing programmes are delivered more quickly than other large scale infrastructure programmes; that housing can attract private finance; and that there are currently “unique opportunities” to access land at cheaper prices.
He concludes: “Clearly, the ability to accelerate investment from 2011-12 lies with decisions the Chancellor might take in his Pre-Budget Report, not least through the Consequentials that would flow to the Scottish budget. I hope and trust that you will be able to make this case with some urgency to the Chancellor as he prepares his Pre-Budget Report.”
Shelter Scotland, along with other housing organisations in Scotland, were left disappointed after the announcement of the draft Scottish budget in September failed to boost spending on affordable housing. The charity has since written to all MSPs to urge them to put forward the case for an increase in spending on affordable housing as the budget makes its way through Parliament in the coming months. (2).
The charity’s high profile campaign has called for investment to build 10,000 affordable rented homes a year to help combat the lowest level of social housing for 50 years and help house the hundreds of thousands of people in Scotland waiting for a home.
Notes to Editors:
1. Shelter Scotland believes everyone should have a home. The charity helps 170,000 people a year across the UK fight for their rights, get back on their feet, and find and keep a home. We also tackle the root causes of Scotland’s housing crisis by campaigning for new laws, policies and solutions. For more information about Shelter Scotland visit www.shelter.org.uk
2. Shelter Scotland’s budget briefing is available at -http://scotland.shelter.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/213785/budget_2009_first_response.pdf or contact the media office on 0844 515 2442.
3. Spokespeople are available for interview, telephone the media office on 0844 515 2442. An ISDN line number is available for broadcast interviews.
Contact: Christina Cran or Nicola Baxter
Phone: 0844 515 2442