Page last updated at 14:59 GMT, Monday, 26 January 2009

Cheap housing campaign launched

House being built
Housing associations say they are struggling to meet demand

A campaign has been launched to have 10,000 new affordable homes for rent built in Scotland.

The move would meet the "spiralling demand" for cheap housing and boost the economy, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) said.

The campaign was backed by charity Shelter Scotland, who said the country faced a housing "time bomb".

A Scottish Government spokesman said it had acted "quickly and decisively" to increase affordable housing.

A total of 477,327 people are now on waiting lists for affordable homes - an increase of 46% since 2000.

The Year of the Home Coming Campaign was launched as the UK and Scottish governments debate details of their budgets for the next financial year.

We are investing record levels of funding in affordable housing - more than 1.5bn over the next three years
Scottish Government spokesman

The SFHA said this year would provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build a meaningful and lasting legacy for the people of Scotland.

The campaign will seek to build a wide consensus for action among politicians, housing organisations, local authorities and financial institutions to deliver 10,000 affordable rented homes for Scotland.

SFHA deputy chief executive Andrew Field said: "Housing associations are desperately struggling to meet demand, we are entering a recession and the construction industry has been decimated - now is the time for a large-scale capital expenditure on building new affordable housing.

"Our governments in Holyrood and Westminster have already shown willing to boost investment in housing in order to cope with the economic downturn.

"We'd like to see even more focus on affordable housing, from across the political spectrum to really make this a year to remember.

"Let's work together to make 2009 the Year of the Homecoming - for the people of Scotland. It's something Robert Burns, champion of the ordinary man and woman, would have appreciated."

'Add pressure'

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said he hoped the campaign would put added pressure on politicians to invest in housing.

"A home for everyone is the benchmark of a decent, modern society," he said.

"Yet in Scotland hundreds of thousands of people are currently either stuck in temporary accommodation or on a waiting list.

"Couple this with a deepening repossession crisis which will undoubtedly add pressure to an already strained social sector, and it's clear Scotland's social housing system is sitting on a time bomb."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "We are investing record levels of funding in affordable housing - more than 1.5bn over the next three years.

"This is 19% more than planned by the previous administration for the last spending review period.

"In our first year of government we started the highest number of public sector houses since the early 1990s.

"We have also brought forward up to 120m of accelerated investment for 2008 and 2009 to increase the supply of affordable homes, support the construction industry and keep the economy moving.

"Local authorities have responded extremely positively to our invitation to apply for a share of 25m to reverse decades of decline in council house building."

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