Nicola Sturgeon promises 50,000 new affordable homes if SNP win election
No new independence vote without “strong and consistent evidence” of shifting public opinion
The SNP will aim to build at least 50,000 new "affordable" homes if re-elected at Holyrood next May, leader Nicola Sturgeon has said.
In the first policy announcement of the party’s autumn conference in Aberdeen, the First Minister said the commitment “is a mark of the ambition we have for this country”.
It came as Sturgeon told delegates it would be wrong to call for another independence referendum without “strong and consistent evidence” that a significant number of No voters have changed their minds.
And in a message directed to David Cameron, the SNP leader warned demand for a second referendum may be “unstoppable” if Scotland exits the European Union “against our democratic wishes”.
However, Sturgeon – who announced that party membership had quadrupled since last year’s referendum, now standing at over 114,000 – stressed the party has “another mission too” as it eyes a third term at Holyrood.
The First Minister said that housing would be “one of the biggest issues” in the forthcoming campaign as she laid out plans to build 50,000 homes over the five-year lifetime of the next parliament.
“Making sure that everyone has a safe, warm and affordable home is central to our government’s drive to make this country fairer and more prosperous,” she said.
“We have a good record on housing. In this parliament, we had a target of building 30,000 affordable homes and we are on track to meet it. We also started a new generation of council house building.
“And we have taken steps to safeguard social housing for the future by abolishing the right to buy. We must now go further and we will.
“Our plans must be affordable. But they must also be ambitious.”
The commitment is worth more than £3bn, Sturgeon told delegates.
Shelter Scotland director Graeme Brown said: "Shelter Scotland has been campaigning for a step change in the supply of affordable housing in Scotland for many years.
“We are glad that our calls have been heard and welcome the First Minister's pledge to deliver 50,000 new affordable homes over the next five years to help tackle Scotland's housing crisis. This is undoubtedly good news for people across Scotland.
"Whatever party is elected next May, Shelter Scotland will continue to work constructively with ministers, politicians and stakeholders to ensure that an affordable house building programme on this scale becomes a reality.
"It is only by delivering a real step change in the supply of affordable housing that we can bring hope to the 150,000 households currently on waiting lists for a home in Scotland and the almost 5,000 children who will wake up homeless across the country tomorrow."
Sarah Gadsden will succeed Colin Mair, who retires at the end of this month
Kate Shannon takes a look at concerns that councils would not be able to make the move to 1,140 hours of free childcare by 2020
Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, on the lessons learned from the Local Government and Communities Committee's inquiry into homelessness
GHA tenant Gemma is on the road to a great career thanks to her housing officer. Discover how a Modern Apprenticeship has changed Gemma's life for the better