Scotland politics

More than 13,000 waiting over a decade for a council house

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More than 13,000 people have been on a council waiting list for a home for 10 years or more, figures have revealed.

The statistics come from data provided to the Liberal Democrats by 22 of Scotland's 32 local authorities.

A Lib Dem spokesman said families were being forced to put "their life on hold for over a decade whilst they wait".

The Scottish government recently announced an end to the "right-to-buy" scheme for council tenants in order to increase the supply of social housing.

Using Freedom of Information laws, the Liberal Democrats learned that of the 170,351 people on local authority waiting lists for social housing, 33,334 had been on the list for at least five years, with 13,021 on it for a decade or more.

Lib Dem housing spokesman Jim Hume demanded action from the Scottish government, saying: "Since the SNP reneged on its promises to build more homes for social rent, Scotland's housing crisis has worsened.

"I have obtained figures which show over 33,000 households have been stuck on local authority waiting lists for social housing for over five years. Around 13,000 households have been waiting for over a decade."

He said the Liberal Democrats had backed legislation recently passed by Holyrood that will end the right-to-buy for council and housing association tenants.

Rebalancing stock

The Scottish government scrapped the policy, which had been introduced by Margaret Thatcher's government, in a bid to boost the number of homes available in the social rental sector.

While the legislation has been passed, tenants still have two years within which they can apply to buy their property.

Mr Hume said: "Scottish Liberal Democrats supported the closure of the right-to-buy scheme as a way of rebalancing Scotland's housing stock. But with two years until that comes into effect the Scottish government can't afford to sit back and wait for this problem to fix itself.

"Families and individuals across Scotland are putting their life on hold for over a decade whilst they wait for a home.

He added: "Regardless of their reason for being on housing waiting lists, they are all in limbo until they get the chance they need to put down roots and get on in life."

A Scottish government spokeswoman said: "The Scottish government is committed to providing affordable social housing to people in Scotland.

"Last week we passed the Housing (Scotland) Bill which by ending the right-to-buy will protect the sale of up to 15,500 social houses over the next 10 years.

He added: "We have invested £1 billion in affordable housing since April 2011, putting us well on track to delivering an additional 30,000 homes of which at least 20,000 will be for social rent across Scotland by March 2016."

A spokesman for the local government body Cosla said: "At the root of the problem is the high level of demand and the low level of supply.

"We fully supported the ending of the right-to-buy in Scotland to reduce the loss of housing from our sector. It is something that should have happened years ago.

"Additionally, councils have historically been the cheapest developer of social rented housing and are likely to continue to be."

"We appreciate that there is no silver bullet and that this is not something that can be sorted overnight."

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