Scottish Labour will this week make a new attempt to declare a national housing emergency.

The party will use its debating time on Wednesday to push the SNP Government to acknowledge the extent of the crisis in housing across the country.

A number of local authorities, including the two biggest in Glasgow and Edinburgh, have already made such a declaration in the face of increasing homelessness figures and a lack of supply.

The party has also urged the Scottish Greens to back the motion, after having voted against a similar attempt while the party was a partner in the Scottish Government.

The vote could be the first John Swinney faces losing since taking over the reins of the Scottish Government if the Greens and the rest of the opposition parties decide to back Labour.


Speaking ahead of the debate, Labour housing spokesman Mark Griffin said there was “no doubt” Scotland was “in the grips of a housing emergency”.

“The SNP Government has not only ignored this crisis, but actively fanned its flames with its brutal cuts to the housing budget,” he said.

“Tackling this housing emergency is key to dealing with the cost-of-living crisis and driving down poverty – the SNP cannot remain in denial about the scale of this emergency.

“The Greens have an opportunity to hold the SNP Government to account for a litany of failures on housing, including plans to tear up the Bute House Agreement affordable housing pledge.

“I urge all parties to stand up for struggling Scots and back this motion acknowledging the housing emergency Scotland faces so we can develop a real plan to fix it.”

In one of his last acts as First Minister Humza Yousaf, Mr Swinney's predecessor,  announced an extra £80 million for affordable housing over the next two years.

The funding was announced by Mr Yousaf on a visit to Hillcrest Housing Association’s Derby Street development in Dundee just days before his resignation last month and was designed to help organisations purchase empty homes for social housing.

Housing bodies, however, said the £80m pledge was too little to reverse Scotland's housing emergency.

The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) said the government's record on housing has been under intense scrutiny in recent months following a £196m cut to the country’s affordable housing budget.


SFHA Chief Executive, Sally Thomas, said that while any new funding was welcome, the new funding would not address the core issue of needing to build homes at scale.

She said: “For months we’ve repeatedly called on government to reverse the huge £200 million cut to the affordable housing programme, so I’m pleased to see the First Minister at least considering the issue of housing."

Figures published last month pointed to the lowest number of homes built by housing associations last year than at any point since 1988.

Ahead of the debate, housing organisation Shelter Scotland urged MSPs to unite and declare a national housing emergency.

The charity said 10,000 children in Scotland are living in temporary accommodation, and added that the country was also seeing rising homelessness, failing local services, and "runaway private rents" as evidence of Scotland’s housing emergency. 

However, it added that any declaration must be swiftly followed by a plan to deliver urgent action including delivering more social homes and ensuring local homelessness services have the resources they need.

Shelter Scotland Director, Alison Watson, said: “Scotland is clearly in a housing emergency and it’s time for our politicians to unite, recognise that it’s devastating the communities they represent, and tell us what they’re going to do to end it. 

“The last time this issue was debated at Holyrood, John Swinney said if we’re going to declare a housing emergency then we need to put our money where our mouth is – he now has a chance to do just that. The First Minister’s mission to end child poverty is a noble one, but it simply cannot succeed while 10,000 children have nowhere to call home.  

“I would urge MSPs across the parliament to back the declaration and commit to taking the kind of urgent action we need to fix our utterly broken housing system.”