Friday, 20 January 2017

Scottish government to protect affordable housing

A Scottish government minister has pledged to protect the £3bn budget for the building of affordable housing from expected cuts from the UK government.

The government announced £3bn will be allocated to help build 50,000 affordable homes over the next five years.

However, Alex Neil, cabinet secretary for social justice, communities and pensioners’ rights, said at the Chartered Institute of Housing conference in Scotland yesterday he expects further public spending cuts in this month’s Budget.

Mr Neil said “no matter what” the UK government decides to cut, “we will do everything in our power to protect the £3bn set aside over the next five years to guarantee that we build those 50,000 affordable and socially rented houses”.

He said: “There is a real risk of a further round of public spending cuts and Scotland will not be able to escape from that. We don’t know how much it’s going to be, but the warnings are already coming from the chancellor that it’s much more likely to happen than not to happen, because the deficit isn’t going down in his eyes fast enough.”

He added: “We as a government will do everything we possibly can to protect the housing capital budget from any cuts whatsoever, because we recognise the importance of housing.”

Mr Neil accused the UK government of “sheer political vandalism” through its policy changes to social housing.

He added: “Effectively they are abolishing the social housing sector, or seeking to abolish it, in England.”

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