Andy Wightman: Transformation not mitigation needed to help the young get homes 


MSPs condemn Tory attack on youth housing support 

THE HOUSING CRISIS for young people needs action to transform the sector in the public interest according to Green MSP Andy Wightman in a session of the Scottish Parliament today (Wednesday 17 May).

In the latest assault on social security, housing support for 18-21 year olds – with certain exemptions – will be denied. Housing and anti-homelessness groups have warned that the cut will exacerbate problems for vulnerable young people. Wightman, however, warned that while the cut was a “regressive move”, it was only “part of a wider failure in housing policy.” 

He warned that “rising rents and rising inequality” had turned society into a division between a “property owning class and a landless class”. Rather than simply try to prop up subsidies for high housing demand (often in the form of housing benefit), he called for a rebalancing of housing with a new taxation system, action on land values, and a reform of the planning system – all of which are within devolved competence. 

Read more – Greens and SNP split on how to tax the unequal housing market  

His intervention was part of a debate on housing support, following previous criticisms of the Tory approach to sanctions, welfare assessments, the rape clause and child cap, and cuts in disability support. 

SNP MSP Ben Macpherson, who led the debate, said the cut was “nonsensical and punitive” with young people “impaired as a result”. He warned that the policy was against the Tories own stated objective, that changes would incentivise work. Instead reducing housing support can make it harder for young people to have stability when seeking work. 

Read more – Ben Macpherson MSP: Tories cut to housing for young an attack on future generations

Scottish Government minister Jeane Freeman confirmed that extra support would be provided for those impacted by the cut through the Scottish Welfare Fund.

MSPs who backed the motion criticised the “ill-conceived and harmful plans that will increase the likelihood of young people being made homeless and undermine the preventative approach to homelessness taken by local and national government in Scotland”.

Tory MSP Adam Tomkins claimed the impact of the cut would be “narrow”, with exemptions provided for those in a vulnerable position.

Picture courtesy of Kid Clutch 

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