Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Emma Roddick has welcomed the publication of the Social Justice and Fairness Commission paper, describing its housing proposals as “groundbreaking”.
The paper, published on Tuesday morning, considers many issues including the challenges rural Scotland faces in losing housing stock to second homes and holiday lets, and proposes a range of policies to tackle these alongside the SNP Scottish Government’s commitment to build 100,000 new affordable homes.
One section suggests “providing local authorities first refusal at market rate when ex-council houses are placed on the market or, when this is not practicable or desired, allowing only those who intend to use the property as a residence the opportunity to purchase”.
Ms Roddick said:
“There is a lot to celebrate in this paper for any person interested in ensuring a future for Scotland which puts social justice and fairness at its heart, but I’m particularly interested in the benefits its housing proposals could bring to the Highlands and Islands.
“Right to Buy and absentee landlords created the housing crisis we face today, but buy-to-let and the explosion of second homes in the region is making it so much worse. People seeking homes to live in rather than assets to invest in are being priced out.
“It is fantastic to see real proposals to tackle these issues and, in turn, depopulation.
“To offer local authorities first refusal at market rate, or only offer ex-council houses to people who intend to live in them, is a groundbreaking proposal which could bring back some of the housing stock we lost thanks to Thatcher’s policy of selling them off.
“We have a long way to go in improving housing options, from building more homes for social rent and improving rights of private tenants to levelling the playing field for young people in the Highlands and Islands looking to purchase a home. This paper is a great place to start.”