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Saturday, 28 September, 2002, 15:57 GMT 16:57 UK
SNP promises action on housing
Housing
Housing repairs were debated at the conference
Action is needed to tackle the "chronic underfunding" of housing repairs, the Scottish National Party conference has heard.

MSP Kenny Gibson told delegates in Inverness that 40% of homes have at least one problem in need of repair.

He argued that housing repair grants should be restored to 75%.

Activists backed a resolution from Mr Gibson and fellow MSP Tricia Marwick which called for the abolition of means testing as a way of deciding eligibility for grants.

SNP conference
The conference ends on Saturday
The motion also demanded that the level of government subsidies should rise in line with inflation.

"The chronic underfunding of housing repairs needs to be addressed," said Mr Gibson.

"The SNP would seek to do just that by reforming the housing repair grants system to ensure that the resources are there to improve the standard and quality of our housing stock."

He said improvements to council houses were being held back because owner-occupiers in the same estates could not afford to renovate their own properties.

He said the Scottish Executive's flagship Housing Act had failed to address this problem.

Means testing

Mr Gibson also said that the money available to local authorities for private repair and improvement grants had fallen from 107m to 38m under Labour.

He said an SNP government would reverse this cut, abolish means testing and link the level of grants available to inflation.

Party activist Catriona Clark argued that abolishing means testing would lead to poorer tenants effectively subsidising well-off owner-occupiers.

However, Mr Gibson said it was a "myth" that those who bought their houses were better off than council tenants.

Fraternal speech

Health spokeswoman Nicola Sturgeon also addressed the final day of the conference to spell out her priorities for reforming the health service.

Her proposals included an 11% pay rise for nurses and a reduction in waiting times.

The event also heard a fraternal speech from Elfyn Llywd, the leader of Welsh party Plaid Cymru on Saturday.

SNP president Winnie Ewing brought the conference to a close with a rallying cry to delegates.

She said that the party could win the election next May if it stuck by its principles.

See also:

28 Sep 02 | Scotland
28 Sep 02 | Scotland
27 Sep 02 | Scotland
27 Sep 02 | Scotland
26 Sep 02 | Scotland
25 Sep 02 | Scotland
25 Sep 02 | Scotland
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