CALLS have been made for 20,000 extra social homes be built to support families “dragged below the poverty line by unaffordable rents” in Edinburgh.

Research has found that the majority of those in poverty in Edinburgh are in work – but steep housing costs hit families hard.

The city council has already committed to building 20,000 affordable homes, but critics worry some of these are not affordable to all, while around £50 million of funding is needed to complete the project –money that would need to come from the Scottish Government.

The latest research from Edinburgh City Council found that social rented homes make up only 14 per cent of the capital’s housing stock – compared to a Scottish average of 23 per cent. But there is a high demand for social rented housing with more than 21,000 people on the housing register as of last year.

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The high demand means that almost 190 households bid for every social rented home that becomes available for let.

Due to a high number of homeless households in Edinburgh, as of last year, around three quarters of council lets in the city go to homeless households – the highest in Scotland, compared to a local authority average of 43 per cent. Almost half of registered social landlord homes go to homeless households.

In Edinburgh, the average house price is around six times the average gross annual earnings in the city, “making it least affordable city in Scotland to buy a home”, according to city council officials.

The average advertised monthly private rent in Edinburgh was more than £1,100 in the second quarter of 2019, compared to a national average of £833. The next highest city was Glasgow with an average of £799.

Depute council leader Cammy Day said action was needed to tackle “ridiculous rents”.

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He added: “For a long time we’ve said that mid-market rents are affordable – it would be reasonable to say they are affordable to some people but absolutely not affordable to people who are suffering with low income and poverty.

“I’m really keen that the city accepts that the housing world needs to change in Edinburgh.

“Edinburgh has probably the biggest public sector housebuilding programme in the UK right now – but it’s still not enough to compete with the demand in the city.”

The Edinburgh Poverty Commission has called for 20,000 additional social homes, which are truly affordable to those on low incomes, to be built over the next decade - but it will require funding from the Scottish Government.

The Herald: More social homes could be built in EdinburghMore social homes could be built in Edinburgh (Image: Newsquest)

Dr Jim McCormick, chairman of the commission, added: “So many families are only dragged below the poverty line by unaffordable rents.

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"A big chunk of Edinburgh’s poverty challenge could be resolved if the city’s housing profile, over a decade, became more like the rest of Scotland. Our call for action is for the city to deliver net 2,000 social homes per year for this decade.

“Affordable housing is the one area where we are saying we want the city and the SG to reach a new settlement around grant finance, capital borrowing consents and the ability to unlock land in appropriate supply at a price that will allow us to deliver genuinely affordable housing.

“Sometimes what's presented as affordable housing, mid-market rent for example, isn’t going to cut it for families whose incomes are going to be dropping quickly as this economic storm continues.”