Comment: homes for the next generation

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The number of people across Scotland now living in private rented accommodation has doubled over the last decade.

That is a striking change to the way we live but it is one of many with which some families here in East Renfrewshire will only be too aware. Over a similar period, for example, the number of young adults living with their parents has risen by 25%.

16th December 2014, The new Scottish Shodow Cabinet outside the Scottish Parliament. Pictured Ken MacIntosh. Credit Steven Scott Taylor/ JP Press License

16th December 2014, The new Scottish Shodow Cabinet outside the Scottish Parliament. Pictured Ken MacIntosh. Credit Steven Scott Taylor/ JP Press License

These are not trends which fill families with optimism for the future.

There are many factors at work including six years of falling real incomes against a rising cost of living and stricter mortgage criteria, but in most cases young people simply cannot find a home they can afford.

There are fewer and fewer houses available for social rent and the Scottish Government has allowed house building to fall to its lowest level since 1947.

In fact worse than that, as we know only too well here in East Renfrewshire, we face endless speculative 
developments for upmarket houses on land that we have specifically identified to be kept as green fields, upsetting communities and undermining trust in our planning system.

We can take action now. We need new homes in areas where local residents agree there should be house building and we need to offer those in private lets some of the protection available to those in social rented accommodation.

A quarter of those renting privately are families with children and they need to know they are safe and secure; that they can stay at the same school with the same friends and community around them.

Landlords too need to know they can get rid of bad tenants or get their property back if they need to sell it.

It’s time the Government in Edinburgh learnt from its own mistakes, helped ease the anxiety of those for whom private renting has become more than a stop gap solution and developed a truly sustainable housing policy.