THE Scottish Parliament has declared a nationwide housing emergency as opposition MSPs pushed for a coherent plan to address the situation.

Scottish Labour tabled a motion which made the declaration on Wednesday, with the Government submitting an amendment accepting issues in the sector.

MSPs voted by 95 votes to 29 in favour of the amended motion.

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With the Bute House Agreement having collapsed last month, this is the first vote for the Scottish Government they risked losing without the support of the Greens.

The motion was the second attempt by Labour to declare a housing emergency, with a previous unsuccessful debate held late last year.

The most recent figures – released in February – showed the highest number of live homelessness cases on record as of September 30 last year and almost 10,000 children living in temporary accommodation on the same day.

Meanwhile, housebuilding slowed in 2023 and the Scottish Government cut almost £200 million from the housing budget.

Speaking in Holyrood, housing minister Paul McLennan (below) said: "Today's debate offers a chance to recognise the current housing emergency in Scotland, the reasons behind it and what he can do collectively to tackle it."

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He added: “I commend the huge and important steps taken in the last 25 years to improve housing policy and end homelessness – I do not want us to go backwards.

“We are facing major housing challenges, but this afternoon offers a chance to reflect and take stock of what’s been achieved and agree what more can be done to tackle the housing emergency.”

It comes just hours after Social Justice Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville accepted there was a housing emergency – joining five Scottish councils

In a statement on Wednesday, Somerville took aim at the UK Government, claiming increased inflation, Brexit and the 9% cut to the capital block grant had all substantially contributed to the current housing situation.

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Labour housing spokesman Mark Griffin, who tabled the initial motion, said it was now for the Government to devise a plan to fix the problem.

“I’m pleased that the Government has finally come to terms with the reality that we’re facing,” he said.

“Now it must set out a clear plan of action to end the emergency it helped create.”

The Government should use “every single available political and financial tool it has at its disposal” to end the emergency, he said.

He added: “When charities are saying there is a housing emergency, when councils are saying there is a housing emergency, when the private sector is saying there is a housing emergency, when the public is telling us loud and clear that there is a housing emergency – there is no longer a debate: There is a housing emergency in Scotland.”

Scottish Tory housing spokesman Miles Briggs, meanwhile, said the Scottish Government’s strategies were “failing” and quoted charity Shelter Scotland in claiming that any attempt to argue otherwise was “gaslighting” the public.

He welcomed the admission by ministers, but claimed they were not acting with “humility”.

Speaking on Wednesday during a visit to a school in Alloa, First Minister John Swinney (below) said: “This Government recognises the seriousness of the housing situation.

The National:

“Which is why we’re committing ourselves to the terms of a housing emergency.

“What we want to do is have a frank debate about the challenges that we face in relation to capital expenditure.”

He said Scotland’s capital budget has fallen by 9% this year compared to last, meaning “we can’t afford as many things that we would have afforded in the past”.

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Swinney added: “We want to engage Parliament about some of the most effective ways of tackling the housing emergency as a consequence of working together on these priorities.”

Alison Watson, the chief executive of Shelter Scotland, said the declaration could be an “important moment”.

“It’s vital that politicians back their words with actions; I call on all parties across Holyrood to work together to urgently deliver the social homes we so desperately need, to ensure that people can keep the homes they have, and to finally bring this devastating housing emergency to an end,” she added.

Meanwhile, John Blackwood, the chief executive of the Scottish Association of Landlords welcomed the news, conceding it was “a little late”.

“What is important is not to focus on blame and recriminations but to get all parties, both political and from across the housing sector, to come together to create a long-term plan that is action focused and outcome driven to solve the housing shortages we face,” he added.

Aditi Jehangir, chairwoman of Living Rent, also said: “Politicians are finally waking up to the housing emergency hitting Scotland, but they need to match their words with action.

“That is why we urgently need MSPs to follow through on commitments to introduce rent controls, and not buckle to landlord lobbyists who want to see these desperately needed measures watered down and delayed.”