LAST week was a big week for the Scottish Parliament and a historic one for tenants across Scotland. After three long days of debate, MSPs voted overwhelmingly to deliver a rent freeze and new eviction protections for hundreds of thousands of tenants.

Housing is not a privilege, it is a right, and all tenants should enjoy secure, accessible, affordable, and warm housing. Yet, with rents soaring, far too many have found themselves trapped in a cycle of insecurity.

If we consider two-bedroom flats, in Edinburgh and Glasgow, there has been a 40% increase in the cost of rent since 2010. In Fife, there has been a 30% increase, and across Scotland as a whole, it has been 25%. This is totally unsustainable, particularly at a time like this.

The legislation that we passed last week will provide reassurance and stability to many households and families that are struggling to make ends meet.

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It was also a watershed for our party and our movement. It was the first ever government bill to be successfully introduced by a Green politician anywhere in the UK. I am very proud to have led on it, but it was only possible because of the close collaboration with our Scottish Government colleagues as well as activists and supporters all over Scotland.

The legislation, which will last until at least the end of March 2023, puts Scotland right at the forefront of tenants’ rights in the UK. It also sets a vital precedent that I hope will be matched by other governments across the UK.

Unfortunately, the early signs are not good. While Labour demanded it and even tried to take credit for it here, they have blocked it in Wales – the place they’re in government.

Tenants must be at the heart of our recovery. That is why, over the course of this parliamentary term, we will be working within the Scottish Government to deliver the biggest expansion of tenants’ rights since devolution.

This will include core rights like the right to keep pets and decorate, through to stronger and better protections against evictions, as well as more significant reforms such as action on warmer homes and a robust national system of rent controls.

The situation is made all the more urgent by the wider economic picture. All over Scotland, there are families who are being stretched from all directions by a cost crisis that has been made so much worse by the incompetence of the Prime Minister and her Chancellor.

That is why we are doing everything we can to provide support and security and to undo and mitigate the impact of Tory misrule.

We are helping families through the crisis by expanding the Scottish Child Payment at a time when the Tories are attacking Universal Credit and other benefits. We have doubled it from £10 a week to £20 a week. At the end of this month, we will be increasing it again to £25 a week for every eligible child.

We have also expanded free school meals to all primary school pupils from P1-P5 and will be expanding them again to include all primary school pupils in the years ahead.

We have also introduced free bus travel for everyone under 22. This has opened the country to young people and their families while boosting public transport and cutting carbon emissions.

These are all vital changes that are directly helping millions of people here and now. They are putting much-needed money in the pockets of those who need it and are helping them through a crisis that they did nothing to cause but are having to suffer through.

Our progressive and supportive approach stands in stark contrast to the incompetence and cruelty of a Tory government that is cutting public services and reducing benefits for many of the most vulnerable people while removing the cap on bankers’ bonuses and offering tax cuts to their rich friends.

She may only have been in office for a matter of weeks, but the Prime Minister has already lost control. Every time we watch the news, there is a new calamity or crisis underway, and it is ordinary people who are being made to pay for it.

It doesn’t have to be like this. There is nothing inevitable about the pain and failure that is being inflicted. It is a political choice by people who know what they are doing but simply don’t care about the consequences.

Even with the limited powers of the Scottish Parliament, we are taking a different and better path and are rejecting the brutal austerity and division that is being stoked up from Downing Street.

That contrast and difference will be on display this weekend when the Scottish Greens gather in Dundee for our annual conference.

Ours will be a positive and optimistic conference. It will give us a chance to reflect on the last 18 months and everything that we have achieved in government in Holyrood and, just as importantly, in town halls up and down Scotland.

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It will also be an opportunity for us to look to the future and discuss our vision for the fairer, greener and independent Scotland that we want to build and how we get there. The discussions and debates taking place among Green members will help to shape our plans.

The northeast of Scotland, where we will be meeting, is symbolic of the change we want to see. Known for being the home of Scotland’s oil and gas sectors, we are delivering a £500 million just transition fund to ensure that it is at the heart of our green industrial revolution.

With Greens in the Scottish Government, we aren’t just talking about change. We are working hard and delivering it. We are turning our words into action and long-held Green principles into a reality. By working positively and constructively, we are building a fairer, greener and better future for our communities.

Last week’s rent freeze and eviction protections were a crucial step on that journey and a sign of the Green change that is coming.