KATE Forbes will establish a new body for house building in Scotland to create homes for purchase and rent if she becomes first minister. 

The SNP leadership candidate said that the supply of affordable homes across the country is under “immense pressure”.

She explained how she wants to give local authorities new powers to implement a council tax surcharge on empty second homes. 

The Scottish Finance Secretary said that housing must be viewed as a necessary infrastructure in building a better Scotland and that it should not be outwith the reach of so many. 

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Forbes said: "Affordable housing is under immense pressure in Scotland. Despite the SNP’s track record of building thousands of homes since 2007, many young families can’t afford a warm, safe home.

"This is particularly acute in rural and remote parts of Scotland where there is a high density of holiday homes."

Homes in rural areas tend to pay more for their energy costs as they have been disproportionately impacted by the current cost of living crisis. 

"As First Minister I would focus on identifying more land in key areas that can be built on, offering councils the option of implementing a council tax surcharge on empty second homes and targeting further investment specifically for rural and remote areas", she added. 

Forbes continued: “I would like to see a new body for house building in Scotland, tasked with further developing house building capacity and acting as an agent for change.

"It could build houses for both rent and sale; it could act as an agent for expanding construction skills apprenticeships to tackle skills shortages.

"In other words it could be a central feature of supply chains in Scotland able to respond to changing needs.

"A secure, comfortable and low energy home needs to be accessible to all in a future Scotland, we have the people, the materials, and the land, we just need the vision, will and organisation.”

Forbes is currently in the running to replace Nicola Sturgeon and will go head to head with her rivals Humza Yousaf and Ash Regan in a series of hustings and live TV debates over the next few weeks

In an exclusive interview with The National, she pledged to create a new prospectus for independence which will be written by the party and “not the British civil service”.