DREW HENDRY: Social housing demand in Inverness is like a pressure cooker
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At a time when mortgage and rent payers are facing hikes in their monthly payments, when the weekly shop has soared in price, and just as winter bites and energy bills start to go up again, the UK Chancellor decided to do something to improve the position of a tiny few – bankers.
The cap on bankers’ bonuses, put in place because of the financial crash many of them caused, was seen as a priority rather than helping you. Less than 10 years ago, ‘top’ bankers routinely received bonuses in the millions, some up to £11 million. Now they can get much more.
Instead of helping people struggling, as many other countries have, to reduce food costs, slash energy bills and protect the homes of rent and mortgage payers, the UK’s priority has been bonuses for the privileged few.
As more people struggle to afford private rent or rising mortgage payments, they are turning, in greater numbers, to the local authority to meet their housing needs.
Despite massive investment from the Scottish Government, working with the council and housing associations, the demand keeps rising. Almost 11,000 affordable homes were delivered in the year to June 2023. Further progress towards achieving the Scottish Government’s target of delivering 110,000 affordable homes by 2032. Importantly, 70 per cent of these for social rent.
More people now regularly contact me about housing than any other issue.
In Inverness, demand for social housing is so high it’s like a pressure cooker, ready to blow. Meanwhile, our communities across the Highlands are often priced out of the housing market by second home buying.
The term cost-of-living crisis may seem like a political currency catch-all for issues in our community – but it isn’t. It is the deeply personal stories we see on the faces of the people who come to us for help.
As the chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on terminal illness, I oversaw an inquiry led by Marie Curie into how housing can exacerbate already unbearable situations.
Imagine facing the end of your life and worrying about losing your home or exorbitant rent.
Everyone should have a safe, warm, affordable home.
Rather than prioritising the scrapping of bankers’ bonus caps to benefit the wealthy, the Chancellor needs to use the forthcoming budget to put money back into the pockets of struggling families so they can afford the roof over their heads.
Drew Hendry is the SNP MSP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey.