We need to go further on social and affordable homes, says SNP candidate Maree Todd
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SNP candidate Maree Todd has acknowledged Scotland’s leading status on social rented housing but says there is a "need to go further" in the Highlands.
She also pledged that her party will seek to address fuel poverty as well as increasing energy efficiency.
Ms Todd was commenting on the annual UK Housing Review 2021 from the Chartered Institute of Housing, which showed Scotland to be ahead of the rest of the UK in terms of growth in social rented homes.
Figures in the review reveal that affordable homes delivered per 100,000 population in 2019/20 reached 17 per cent in Scotland, compared with 14.5 per cent in Northern Ireland, 10.2 per cent in England and 9.3 per cent in Wales.
The SNP candidate for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross said: “It’s encouraging to see that Scotland is leading in the UK when it comes to its growth in social rented homes. Good housing and homes support our health, our wellbeing, our life chances and our job prospects.
"The SNP has already delivered 3574 social and 2500 affordable homes in Highland but we recognise that we need to go further. Under our long-term housing strategy, the SNP will deliver 100,000 new affordable homes across Scotland by 2031/32."
Ms Todd highlighted plans set out by her party to tackle fuel poverty, an issue of "local significance".
She said: “Addressing fuel poverty and increasing energy efficiency are also central to the SNP’s plans.
“We’ve made substantial progress in this area over the years through implementing an energy efficiency standard for social rented homes. We have also introduced some of the most ambitious and comprehensive fuel poverty legislation in the world.
“The SNP’s housing strategy vows to go a step further by reviewing energy standards set through building regulations to deliver further improvements in the energy efficiency and emissions reductions in new homes.”
She added: “Fuel poverty is an issue of local significance as the data shows that we pay more in energy prices in the north of Scotland compared with down south.”
Scottish Government figures from 2019 show that an estimated 24.6 per cent of all households were in fuel poverty, with rates increasing in rural areas from 33 per cent to 43 per cent in a year.
Ms Todd added: “The Highlands has long been penalised by an unjust energy charging regime which is not reflective of our contribution of clean, green electricity. As this is an area reserved to Westminster, we can only do so much within our devolved powers to mitigate its impact.
“Ofgem [the energy regulator] says that the impact of a national pricing charge in Scotland would be 1.8 million households would face higher bills and 0.7 million households would see a reduction – Highland households are obviously among the 0.7 million that don’t warrant fair treatment.
“The need for reform is long overdue, but it’s not forthcoming or a priority of the UK government. It’s time for the people of Scotland to decide how we progress. By giving both your votes to the SNP on May 6, you’re voting for a fairer future for Scotland.”