Last June I launched a campaign called ‘Home Sweet Home’. I launched that campaign because we face a housing crisis in Scotland.
There are currently over 5000 families on the housing waiting list in North Ayrshire.
People, particularly young people, are struggling to get on the housing ladder and home ownership amongst under 34 year olds has fallen 15% under the SNP to its lowest level since the Scottish Parliament was established.
Too many, particularly young people, are being forced into the private rented sector, with sky high rents, because they have no other housing options.
Through my campaign I wanted to highlight these problems and campaign for change.
I made it clear that to me housing is not a commodity, it is a basic right and good quality housing changes people’s lives. It therefore shouldn’t be the case that only those who can afford to buy it can have housing options. I want everyone to have that basic right.
I am therefore absolutely delighted that Scottish Labour will be offering Scots the most comprehensive housing plan for generations at this election.
We will build the council houses that local families need with 60,000 new affordable homes built across Scotland over the next Parliament.
We will tackle rip off rents in the private rented sector by supporting rent controls, a move that will make the private rented sector fairer for those who have to use it.
And we will support young people to get on the housing ladder, by offering people who save through a first time buyer ISA up to the value of £3000 an additional £3000 towards the cost of a deposit to buy a property.
The combination of all three policies means that Scottish Labour will radically change our housing system and ensure that everyone has the basic right to good quality housing, with a greater choice.
Labour was the party that dramatically changed housing after the Second World War, with a mass council house building programme which turned slums into the homes that local families still live in. We are now, once again, offering the bold, radical change that will deliver the homes we need for generations to come.
This is exactly the sort of change that I was campaigning for when I launched ‘Home Sweet Home’. It will help people across North Ayrshire.
But in recent weeks it has become clear to me that we face another serious housing challenge.
I have been approached by a number of local people who require accessible housing because they are disabled. The problem is that there is a severe lack of fully accessible housing in North Ayrshire, and indeed Scotland.
There is no greater example of this than what has happened to many of the residents at Red Cross House.
Red Cross House is a residential and respite care facility that has provided support to vulnerable people across Scotland since 1992. However, the Red Cross have made a ‘strategic decision’ to stop delivering residential care and therefore Red Cross House is closing in the coming weeks. That’s left North Ayrshire Council, and indeed other local authorities, to find alternative accommodation for the residents of Red Cross House.
The problem is, as I said, there is a lack of fully accessible housing.
And that has left young adults being forced into care homes for the elderly and those with dementia.
It is an appalling situation. You can read about the case of one resident, Dr Danielle Farrell, here > http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-35928028?post_id=10209044616542875_10209044617062888
It is a heart-breaking story.
That’s why, in addition to supporting Scottish Labour’s radical housing plan, if I am elected as the MSP for Cunninghame South I will make accessible housing a priority. I will do as much work as possible to uncover the full extent of Scotland’s accessible housing problem and will work to develop a plan to solve it.
People like Danielle and the constituents I am assisting deserve that change.