SO, it takes the recently jilted Greens to vote for the same Labour motion that they recently voted against when still in bed with SNP to shame the SNP into declaring a Housing Emergency.

If that doesn’t tell voters all they need to know of the morals of the Greens and SNP, nothing will.
How to fund the billions of pounds needed over the next 10 years ('Billions needed to tackle mounting homes crisis', May 16)?

Instead of, as usual, conveniently blaming Westminster for their failure to fund housing, which is devolved, one option would be for the SNP to scrap the council tax and replace it with a local income tax so that everyone using services has to pay, especially households with multiple earners. The SNP promised to do that years ago but have reneged.

Option 2, instead of just increasing council tax rates for band G and H houses, the SNP could revalue all Council Tax band A-F houses throughout Scotland to reflect their increased values from home improvements such as extensions, sun-rooms or attic conversions. It’s not hard to check which houses should be re-valued, re-banded and which should be paying very much more -– just check the records of Building Warrants and Completion Certificates.

Option 2 would cure all councils' chronic funding shortage without increasing the actual council tax rates.

Happy to help.

Alasdair Sampson, Stewarton, East Ayrshire.


Read more:

'Not enough': Billions needed to tackle Scots housing emergency

Holyrood declares a housing emergency after ministers U turn

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


Right-to-buy is partly to blame
I REFER to the profound problems which have arisen in respect of the shortage of affordable housing.

No doubt all those people who exercised the right to buy their council houses at a discount will be stricken with concern at the Scottish Parliament making a symbolic housing emergency declaration.

No doubt all the buy-to-let landlords who now own former council houses will be feeling likewise.

In Scotland, under the right-to-buy legislation, 494,580 council and housing association houses were sold between 1979/80 and 2014/15. 

There can be little doubt that this legislation, which ended in 2016, has contributed to the unsatisfactory situation in Scotland today when it comes to meeting the demands of those seeking housing for social rent, those who have become homeless, and refugees from abroad in search of accommodation .
Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.


Adverse impact of land monopoly
In response to your article, ‘Holyrood declares a housing emergency after ministers’ U-turn’ (May 15), there would be no homelessness if the State, irrespective of which party is in power, did not violate our natural right to a fair share in the land (by value), our ‘wee bit hill and glen’. 

That wee bit might be a poky high-rise flat, but tenants would only be paying for the building, not the location. 

No party proclaims this right. Indeed, there’s a deafening silence on other economic rights, too: the right to the full product of our labour, the right to free trade with anyone, anywhere.  The housing emergency is just another example of the pernicious effects of land monopoly.
George Morton, Rosyth.


Scotland’s record on housing
CONTRARY to Dr Edwards’ claims on housing (letters, May 16), Scotland has a much better record on building affordable housing than elsewhere in the UK, or even compared to the last “Unionist regime” at Holyrood, when there were around 58,000 open homelessness cases in 2006, the last year of a Labour Government in Scotland.

In the year to March 2023, 23,510 new homes were built in Scotland. This was more than double the rate built per head of population in Labour-controlled Wales and a third higher than Tory England.

However, social rent new-builds in Scotland last year were running at half of the pre-Covid levels. That was due to a combination of massive construction inflation costs and supply shortages after Brexit. Also, the Liz Truss mini-budget ramped up mortgage rates, worsened affordability, and left more desperate people chasing anything that was vaguely affordable.

Despite Westminster’s cut of £1.9 billion to Scotland’s capital budget, the Affordable Housing Supply Programme budget is £600 million in 2024-2025, as housing is essential in efforts to tackle child poverty and reduce inequality.
Mary Thomas, Edinburgh.


Political expediency?
IT’S difficult not to be cynical when it comes to politicians’ pledges to commit money to new homes. As we are discovering, and not for the first time, such pledges sound good and eminently sensible – but will we actually see measurable progress?

Your story yesterday about the billions of pounds needed had a revealing line about political attitudes towards the housing emergency.

Scotland’s social justice secretary made a housing emergency declaration the other day. Fair enough. But only last November the SNP voted against a Labour motion declaring an emergency. Which SNP stance are we to believe in now? The new one, or the one from just seven months ago? Is this all just political expediency?
D. Hamilton, Glasgow.


Building sites in the Highlands
SCOTLAND used to have a high proportion of council housing. Why not again? In this part of the world, Badenoch, and for much of the Highlands, there are numerous sites which could accommodate many homes. Planned communities could give opportunity to a diversity of folk, for it’s long since gone that coal, iron and chemicals were a basis for jobs. 

The Highlands are attractive though perhaps less so in winter, but even then... There are numerous smart working folk who don’t particularly want to get on a housing ladder. They want good homes. 

The government could enable the compulsory purchase of sites adjacent to the A9. (The road isn’t perfect – but spending billions to let drivers hammer back and forth and snag up Perth and Inverness!? Is that the best use of limited resources, Mr Swinney?)
Repopulation and rewilding should be mutually supportive. 
Dick Webster, Kingussie.


Laudable bravery of Mark Smith
HOW refreshing to read that Mark Smith (‘The Greens do not speak for gay people. Stop it’, May 13) was bold enough to admit that his views on trans rights had shifted. It was also encouraging that over two years his viewpoint changed after interviewing people with different views from his.

It seems that while those who support gender ideology state that gender is fluid and not fixed, they opine that gender fluidity should be fixed with no room for critique or reassessment. Daring to question trans rights leads, as we know, to being judged as ‘non-progressive’, which is one of the milder comments.

The greater the evidence, as in the Cass report, the greater the attack, so Mark Smith is very brave in stating his views so clearly, opening himself up to character assassination.

His example of determining to speak with those of a different persuasion and being willing to understand their point of view is laudable and worth emulating, especially in the light of our First Minister’s intention to bring in an era of respect in debate in the Scottish Parliament.
Irene Munro, Conon Bridge.


The gaslighting of the Scots
LEAH Gunn Barrett (letters, May 15) tells us all how we are downtrodden as a result of being part of the world’s sixth largest economy. We are a colony of England, she repeats several times, and unspecified figures have “gaslighted” Scots for 317 years, destroying their culture, language, and a whole lot more and giving us an inferiority complex. So how come so many “cringing” Scots have contributed so much to the Union which Ms Barrett despises?

Alexander Fleming, who discovered penicillin, Robert Watson-Watt whose radar invention saved Britain in 1940; Alexander Buchanan, the founder of modern meteorology; John Logie Baird, who invented television, and a hundred others who regarded themselves as British as well as Scots.

If anyone is gaslighting Scots it is fervent nationalists who continue to talk Scotland down, and the SNP government which has created barriers between Scotland and England, such as the Gaelic branding of all government departments, and police vehicles and ambulances with what is in effect a foreign language to 90 per cent of Scots.

Even before devolution Scotland was a state within a state with its own legal and education systems, its own churches, and its own local governance. Now that the Scottish government has huge power over how Scots live their lives – and, in case of the SNP government, a majority would say too much power – Ms Barrett’s claims are ludicrous.
William Loneskie, Lauder, Berwickshire.