Having a home of your own really matters. We all want somewhere warm and safe to go back to at the end of a long day, to bring up children, to make new memories or grow old with our partners. A home is where much of our life happens.
That’s why we’ve made the delivery of new homes a priority since being elected to office in 2007. In fact, we’ve now delivered almost 72,500 affordable homes.
As Housing Minister I have the privilege of meeting some of the people behind the statistics: young people or new families embarking on their first home; growing families; older people living more independent lives; disabled people in adapted properties or people moving from homelessness to a home.
A big part of meeting this diverse demand is delivering new social housing. An incredible 50,000 council or housing association homes have been delivered over the past ten years.
We’ve achieved this, in part, because we chose to undertake the first national council housing programme for a generation. Under the previous Labour government, just six council homes were delivered – all of them in Shetland.
And for almost 30 years, successive Tory and Labour governments allowed our council housing to be sold off, with little action to replace lost stock. Not only have we delivered new council homes, we finally ended Thatcher’s out of date right to buy policy.
Protecting existing stock is important but so too is meeting local challenges, particularly in rural areas. So we have established a £20 million Rural Housing Fund, as well as a £5 million Island Housing Fund.
We’ve achieved a lot over the past decade but I know we have much more to do. In our last five year term of office we exceeded our goal of delivering 30,000 affordable homes, this term we are determined to deliver 50,000 more.
To meet this, we will invest £3 billion over five years, including £756 million this year alone and a 76 per cent increase on the previous five years.
There can be no doubting the scale of this ambition but we are determined to meet it. There will be no let up in our work to ensure that everyone in Scotland has a home to call their own.
Kevin Stewart MSP is the Scottish Minister for Local Government and Housing.