The Scottish Government will declare a national housing emergency later today it has been confirmed.

The announcement will come from the Social Justice Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville during a Labour-led debate at Holyrood.

Ahead of the debate Ms Somerville said the Scottish Government will take firm action with the powers at its disposal as it declares a housing emergency and call for a commitment from the UK Government and local authorities to work in partnership to tackle “one of the defining issues of a generation.”

She will declare that there is a national housing emergency as a result of factors including "Brexit, UK Government austerity and economic incompetence", and will call for all parties in Scotland to work together to examine all options to make progress, and to unite in calling for the UK Government to reverse a cut to Scotland’s capital budget of almost 9%.

READ MORE: Rent controls risk £5bn of house spending, say industry

“The housing emergency is one of the defining issues of a generation – caused by a decade and a half of Tory austerity, soaring inflation as a result of UK Government economic incompetence, and the almost 9% cut in the Scottish Government’s capital budget handed down by Westminster," said Ms Somerville ahead of the debate.

“Despite having one hand tied behind our back by Westminster austerity, we have taken firm action on housing – and we can be proud of a record showing we have delivered significantly more affordable homes than in England and Wales, and taken firm action on rent increases.

“But still too many people in Scotland are struggling to make ends meet due to housing costs – or struggling to find suitable housing at all.  We will continue to do everything we can with the powers at our disposal to make progress – but truly tackling the housing emergency will rely on a joint approach between UK, Scottish and local government."

She added: “I am pledging today that I will work constructively and in good faith with the UK Government and local authorities across Scotland in considering what more can be done to tackle the housing emergency.

“As a first step, this will require the current UK Government – and the UK Labour Party – to commit to reversing the almost 9% cut to Scotland’s capital budget, and I am today asking the Scottish Parliament to unite with one voice to demand a change in approach and an end to austerity which has caused untold harm to people across the country.”

UK ministers underline that the Scottish Government receives about 25% more funding per person than other parts of the UK.

Scottish Labour will also highlight a reduction of £200m by the Scottish Government to the housing budget this year.

The cut, announced in December, came amid growing fears over the housing supply and was condemned by organisations supporting the homeless and people seeking affordable homes.  

Finance Secretary Shona Robison said the £200m spending reduction on housing was due to Westminster cuts. In one of his final acts as First Minister last month, Humza Yousaf announced an £80m increase to the same budget over two years.

Ministers also insist that despite cuts to Scotland’s capital budget, the Scottish Government will invest nearly £600 million in affordable housing in 2024/25 and over £90 million for discretionary housing payments.

Ahead of the Holyrood debate today, the Scottish Property Federation,  which represents companies involved in private property ownership and investment, warned that Scotland stands to miss out on £4.5 billion of private sector housing investment over the next decade.

The organisation maintains that the investment which could bring  17,000 construction jobs and thousands of new homes is at risk because of the Scottish Government's plans to bring in rent controls.

Campaign groups representing tenants have welcomed the legislation which also includes measures to combat homelessness, however, representatives in the property sector fear it could lead to fewer homes to rent because of investor reluctance. 

Their warning follows pledges by  First Minister John Swinney and his deputy Kate Forbes to refocus the administration's priorities on growing the economy and creating jobs.

READ MORE: Rent controls risk £5bn of house spending, say industry

READ MORE: Scottish Budget: £200m cut to housing condemned amid homeless crisis

Last year Argyll and Bute, City of Edinburgh and Glasgow City councils all declared housing emergencies.

Fife Council made the same move in March followed by West Dunbartonshire earlier this month.

Declaring an emergency is a signal to government that the current situation is not working and there needs to be intervention.

The councils cited issues ranging from pressure on homelessness services, rising property prices and high levels of temporary accommodation.

READ MORE: Labour to make new attempt to declare housing emergency

By declaring an emergency, the Scottish Government is formally recognising the housing problem and calling for cuts to its capital budget to be reversed.

However, there are no practical effects that automatically happen due to a declaration being made.

Labour previously tabled a motion for an opposition debate at Holyrood this afternoon declaring a housing emergency. This debate is still due to go ahead.

The party's housing spokesman Mark Griffin said the SNP's approach to the housing emergency had "actively fanned its flames" due to budget cuts.

He added: "The Greens have an opportunity to hold the SNP government to account for a litany of failures on housing."

BBC Scotland News today reported that the Scottish Greens have yet to decide how to vote.

The minority SNP government would likely face defeat if their former government partners back Labour’s position, although the Labour motion is not binding and would therefore have had no practical effect.

A similar motion in November 2023 did not pass as the Greens were still part of the Scottish government at that point.

A UK Government spokesperson said: “Decisions at Spring Budget took our direct investment in levelling up Scotland past the £3bn mark, and the Scottish government receives around 25% more funding per person than equivalent UK government spending in other parts of the UK through its record £41bn per year settlement.”

Scottish Conservative shadow housing secretary Miles Briggs MSP backed the housing emergency declaration but said the Scottish Government were blame for the crisis with rent freezes on existing tenancies that were in place until April this year pushing up rents overall.

“The SNP have had to be dragged kicking and screaming into this long overdue acceptance of reality," he said.

“The Scottish Conservatives have repeatedly called for a national housing emergency to be declared, but these calls fell on deaf ears until now. SNP ministers have also ignored the calls from charities, as well as five local councils declaring emergencies in their own areas.

 “This situation is entirely of the SNP’s making. Shirley-Anne Somerville has typically tried to blame Westminster but the SNP have received a record block grant and it is them who shamefully slashed £200 million from the affordable housing budget.

 “They - along with Labour - also backed the Greens illogical rent freeze policy which has instead hit tenants with soaring rents and has put the pause on much needed housing developments.

“The SNP’s record on housing during their 17 years in office is one of woeful failure. A record number of children are having to live in temporary accommodation and homelessness levels are at disgraceful levels.

 “Finally declaring a housing emergency must be more than lip service from the SNP. We must see ministers now reverse their deeply damaging cuts and take the urgent action required – including bringing thousands of empty properties back into use – to tackle Scotland’s housing crisis.”

Callum Chomczuk, national director of Chartered Institute of Housing, which represents housing providers in both the private and public sector, said:  “Back in March CIH Scotland declared its solidarity with the local authorities across Scotland that had declared a housing emergency.

"We called on the UK government to provide increased capital spending and for the Scottish government to prioritise the building of affordable housing, including the front loading of affordable housing budget so social landlords can keep building.

“Since then, the context has arguably got worse with two additional local authorities declaring housing emergencies and data showing that affordable housing supply approvals and starts are at 10 year lows.

“The declaration of a housing emergency is a start. But we need an emergency plan and funding for delivering the social homes Scotland needs to address our housing and homelessness emergency.”