THE SNP and Tories have been accused of a “stitch-up” and making Scotland less equal after blocking support for tenants struggling with their rent in the coronavirus crisis.

It followed votes at Holyrood’s Covid-19 committee to reject Labour and Green plans to create dedicated funds for tenants.

The Greens had also proposed a two-year rent freeze and disallowing Covid-era arrears as a factor in any future eviction.

However the Scottish Government said there could be consequences for landlords. 

The Covid-19 committee is currently scrutinising the second major piece of emergency legislation related to the pandemic, the Coronavirus (No2) Scotland Bill.

Glasgow Labour MSP Pauline McNeill had tabled an amendment to create a dedicated fund to support tenants unable to meet their rent because of the crisis, which was supported by the Greens, and Liberal Democrats.

Green MSP Andy Wightman, whose party proposed a similar fund, said the welfare system was “useless” for private sector tenants, as it did not meet the full rent costs.

SNP housing minister Kevin Stewart said housing support costs were the responsible of the UK Government, and tenants were being encouraged to apply for Universal Credit.

He said the rent freeze plan did not take into accounts the financial issues faced by either tenants or landlords, or possible negative consequences.

He recommended rejecting all the Labour and Green amendments on the issue.

The SNP have four MSPs on the nine-member committee and the Tories two, while Labour, the Greens and LibDems have one MSP each.

A Green amendment to make the contraceptive pill free at pharmacies instead of only with a GP prescription was also defeated.

Constitution Secretary Michael Russell said it was not needed as the Scottish Government was already looking at making contraceptives available under the minor ailments service. 

Mr Wightman said after the vote: “Housing is a human right, and access to good housing is a public health issue, that’s why it is deeply disappointing to see SNP MSPs once again team up with the Tories to block clear progress on social justice. 

“A rent freeze and a ban on evictions based on arrears accumulated as a result of this crisis would have provided much-needed security for people who are financially most at risk.

“Scottish Ministers made no attempt to contact me to discuss my amendments despite being advised of them a week ago. 

“This stands in contrast to the last piece of emergency legislation, when the SNP and the Conservatives stitched up a deal to help out landlords. 

“It is very disappointing that they couldn’t bring themselves to afford a similar benefit for private tenants.

"The First Minister said she wanted to build a fairer and more equal Scotland from this crisis, yet her party seem keen to make it less fair and less equal.”