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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 February 2007, 13:37 GMT
'We cannot ignore housing need'
By Archie Stoddart
Director, Shelter Scotland

Today thousands of us will run around trying to find the perfect card to show our love for someone.

For thousands of others, however, there are other things to be worrying about, like how to afford or even find a roof over their head.

In today's world, life is about choice.

This includes whether you want a new car, or where you want to go on holiday, or where your children should go to school.

Archie Stoddart
Mr Stoddart said 2007 is a "crunch year" for housing in Scotland

But in today's housing market, people are often left without real choices about where to live.

Rising house prices have been good in financial terms for those who bought in recent years, with some properties increasing in value beyond peoples' imaginations.

The Right to Buy policy, whereby council tenants can buy their council house, has helped thousands onto the property ladder who might otherwise have carried on renting.

Two-thirds of Scottish households are now owner occupied - almost double the proportion prior to the introduction of the Right to Buy in 1980 - and almost half a million homes have been sold.

But this drive towards home ownership has a darker side.

We have hundreds of thousands of people on council house waiting lists, thousands of people stuck in temporary accommodation after finding themselves homeless and we're seeing councils facing acute pressures in trying to house people.

We can ease this pressure though. This year is a crunch year for housing in Scotland.

This year, the Scottish Executive will carve up its spending for the coming three years (2008-11) under a process called the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR).

A row of houses
There are thousands of people on council house waiting lists

We welcomed the investment in affordable rented housing through the 2004 CSR, when there was a pledge to build 16,500 affordable rented homes. But we clearly need more.

Shelter Scotland - along with the Chartered Institute of Housing, the Scottish Council for Single Homeless and Scottish Churches Housing Action - believe there is a pressing case for an increased investment in housing.

We are calling for a housing investment programme of 30,000 affordable rented homes over three years.

The additional funding for such a programme would cost less than 1% of the Scottish budget over that time.

This investment will help to ease the pressure on Scotland's housing market, move people off waiting lists and from temporary accommodation into a home, and ensure local authorities can meet their requirements to house everyone under the 2012 homelessness target.

We cannot continue to ignore housing need.

This year presents politicians with the best opportunity to ensure people have real choices about where they live.

For Sale signs
The charity says house prices have risen by 108% within five years

First time buyers are overstretching themselves to buy houses that have risen in price by 108% in five years.

People are queuing for a week in their cars in the snow to get a 250,000 house.

Families are living too long in temporary accommodation. This should not be the norm. It's time to get a move in.

We must show politicians that we need to invest in Scotland's housing future.

A total of 5,000 of you told us how important home was to you through our home is campaign - and we handed those quotes over to the minister for communities last week.

But we need even more of you to stick our new 'It's time to get a move in' sticker on your door to show passers by, leafleters and politicians that we cannot wait any longer for a significant investment to house Scotland's people.


SEE ALSO
Time for new homes, says Shelter
14 Feb 07 |  Scotland
Homeless singles on the increase
26 Sep 06 |  Scotland
Plan to end homelessness unveiled
21 Dec 05 |  Scotland

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