Mon 31 Aug, 2020

Scottish Greens Co-Leader Patrick Harvie MSP has called on the First Minister to adopt his party’s five-point housing plan to kickstart a green recovery when she outlines her programme for government on Tuesday.

Mr Harvie has called on the Scottish Government to grasp the nettle and deliver action that would support private tenants, free up housing currently used for short term lets, and create thousands of jobs.

The Greens believe actions must be taken to 1) end homelessness, 2) tackle out of control rents, 3) ensure no-one is evicted as a direct result of the coronavirus crisis, 4) introduce a licensing scheme for short term lets, and 5) rollout a programme of energy efficiency improvements to reduce energy bills, tackle the climate crisis and create jobs.

Patrick Harvie MSP said:

“This year’s programme for government comes in the most challenging of times and is arguably the Scottish Government’s most important ever as it signals how it plans to recover from the unprecedented coronavirus crisis. Scottish Greens are calling on the First Minister to build a better, fairer Scotland by giving everyone in Scotland security and comfort in their home.

“At the height of the pandemic the considerable efforts of local councils and housing charities led to the virtual ending of homelessness. As lockdown is eased we have sadly seen some of this tremendous work unravel. We know that homelessness is not inevitable, so it’s essential that the Scottish Government uses every measure at its disposal to bring an end to homelessness in Scotland once and for all.

“The SNP claims to support the introduction of rent controls, but there has been a complete failure from the Scottish Government to address the issue of soaring rents throughout their time in government. The pandemic has shone a light of the sheer number of people struggling to pay their rent, yet the Scottish Government refused to support Scottish Greens calls for a rent freeze. The First Minister must revisit this issue and announce a fair rents bill when she delivers her programme for government, providing hope to all those trapped into annual rent increases while their incomes stagnate or decline.

“The Scottish Government has so far failed to announce any substantive measures to support tenants during the pandemic, other than an eviction pause, leaving many tenants with the threat of eviction still hanging over their heads. As we approach the end of original six-month emergency period it is essential that the government puts in place legislation to ensure that no-one is evicted as a direct result of the coronavirus crisis to avoid a winter wave of evictions. Funding is needed also to prevent tenants who've lost income building up unpayable debts where landlords have refused to waive rent.

“In January the Housing Minister committed to introducing a licensing scheme for short term lets following years of determined campaigning by my colleague Andy Wightman. Short term lets are out of control in many parts of the country and licensing them will empower local councils to ensure that they can appropriately play a role in supporting the tourist sector, without blighting the lives of those who have the misfortune to live in the same close as multiple of these holiday lets. The programme must commit to implementing this licensing scheme urgently.

“Investing in energy efficiency is the cheapest and most effective way of creating jobs in the construction sector whilst also tackling the climate crisis and reducing energy bills. Just doubling the capital investment in home energy efficiency programme could create an additional 2000 jobs and leverage £600m in private investment. In June the First Minister said she agreed that Scotland’s energy efficiency schemes should be upscaled this year. It’s now time to deliver.

“By investing in improved, warmer homes, tackling out of control short term lets, committing to no coronavirus evictions, tackling out of control rents and putting an end to homelessness the Scottish Government could lay the foundations on which to build a much a fairer, greener Scotland.”

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