FEW would deny Scotland faces a housing crisis which inflicts real hardship on hundreds of thousands of families every day. With 200,000 people on the housing waiting list, it will take them 20 years, at the current rate, to secure decent accommodation – since fewer than 1000 new homes were built for rent in the public sector last year.

With the average price of a house now £200,000 – at eight times the average wage – it is well out of reach of most people.

Meanwhile, the average rent in the private sector is £650 a month – and that gets you little more than a small flat. Scotland’s housing system is clearly broken.

The housing crisis is now one of the most urgent problems facing us. So, the Scottish Socialist Voice is to be congratulated for organising this weekend’s discussion on how to solve this intractable problem.

Joining me on the platform will be Aisling Hedderman, chair of the North Dublin Bay Housing Crisis Committee, and Stephen Wishart from Shelter. Aisling is active in the fight against

housing poverty in Ireland and she has been involved in reclaiming several properties in Dublin left empty after Ireland’s last housing collapse.

Stephen will relate his experience working with families on the homeless frontline. His charity provides more than a million people with advice and housing support services annually in Scotland.

I know the scale of the housing problem here in Scotland and I’ll be outlining the Scottish Socialist Party’s (SSP) solution to the crisis. The SSP rejects the view, prevalent for the past 30 years, that the “market knows best”. All the available evidence shows that not to be the case. The belief only the moneyed few can enjoy a decent home while the rest of us are denied our inalienable right to affordable accommodation with all the amenities and facilities we should expect in the 21st century is one the SSP rejects. And yet it increasingly seems the SSP are one of the few voices left championing such an opinion.

And more broadly the SSP takes the view that in housing, as in other areas of former public services such as energy and railways, there is also a compelling need to break the 30-year spell of neoliberal “market knows best” economic policy. This belief that the world is run for the benefit of the rich few with the rest of us left to suffer the spiral of declining services and soaring bills is widespread and yet stands as a rebuke to all Scotland’s major parties who fail to challenge it.

It is this attitude that underpins our firm belief that major change is required in how economic policy is implemented in order to check and then reverse the dominance of big money over all our lives. No-one should expect those parties advocating neoliberal free-market options to solve Scotland’s chronic housing crisis. Not only are they not going to solve the problem they are complicit in it.

For the SSP the solution is to begin a massive house-building programme, like we did in the past, this time providing 100,000 new houses for rent in the public sector over the next five years.

This weekend’s Scottish Socialist Voice Forum aims to offer up solutions to this chronic problem and to mobilise people, young and old, to act on the immediate housing challenges and contribute to a longer-term vision of an independent Scotland aiming to put the needs of tenants before the profits of the few.

The Scottish Socialist Voice’s forum on the housing crisis is on Saturday, February 23, from 11am-2pm, at the Unison offices in Bell Street, Glasgow. Tickets available via Eventbrite

Róisín McLaren is national co-spokesperson of Scottish Socialist Party