Promise 'broken'

Yousaf ‘fails to deliver homes for rural workers’

Humza Yousaf at SNP conference
Humza Yousaf announced help for rural workers (pic: Terry Murden)

First Minister Humza Yousaf has failed to fulfil a promise to deliver homes for rural workers through a new fund, it has been claimed.

The £25 million Rural Affordable Homes for Key Workers Fund was designed to help local authorities identify affordable homes for workers employed in sectors key to the rural economy.

However, no homes have been secured through the fund, seven months since it was announced by Mr Yousaf in his First Minister policy prospectus.

Tory shadow housing secretary Miles Briggs said this is a typical example of ministers “overpromising and underdelivering” and that it shows meeting the demand for homes in rural Scotland is “simply not a priority” for the “Central Belt-obsessed” SNP-Green government.

He urged Paul McLennan to fully engage with local councils and “urgently” ensure homes are identified to attract people to live and work in rural Scotland.

Mr Briggs said: “The fact that no homes have been identified through this fund – seven months after Humza Yousaf launched it to much fanfare – is a typical example of the SNP-Green government overpromising and underdelivering.

“They have completely neglected the housing needs of rural Scotland, and this fund looks to be the latest shocking example.”

“After announcing £25 million-worth of funding, the SNP housing minister has clearly been asleep at the wheel. The failure to identify these homes in our rural areas means key sectors are missing out on having the workers they need, which in turn is deeply damaging for our economy.

“The Central Belt-obsessed SNP-Green government are out of touch with rural Scotland. They repeatedly fail to back up their warm words with the required resources. These communities are simply not a priority for them.

“Housing minister Paul McLennan must step up and engage with local authorities and urgently ensure this fund starts attracting people to live and work in rural Scotland.”

Salmon Scotland also detailed the issues caused in its industry due to the lack of rural housing. Chief executive Tavish Scott said: “The Scottish salmon sector is vital for Highland and island economies, but too often our member companies face employment challenges because of the lack of rural housing.”

Mr McLennan blamed Brexit and Covid for the issues, but claimed that the “the number of affordable homes completed in the latest year is the highest annual figure since 2000.”

He added: “Good quality housing is essential to attract and retain people in rural and island communities and from April 2016 to March 2023, the Scottish Government has supported the delivery of more than 10,000 affordable homes across rural and island areas.

“Our commitment to deliver 110,000 affordable homes, of which at least 70% will be for social rent and 10% in our rural and island communities, is backed up by our new Rural and Islands Housing Action Plan.”

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