THE Scottish Government is set to declare a national housing emergency during a debate in Holyrood on Wednesday.

Social Justice Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville is expected to make the announcement during a Labour-led debate at Holyrood.

It comes after Argyll and Bute, City of Edinburgh and Glasgow City councils all declared housing emergencies last year.

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Fife Council made the same move in March followed by West Dunbartonshire earlier this month.

Declaring an emergency is a signal to government that the current situation is not working and there needs to be an intervention.

By doing so, the Scottish Government is formally recognising the housing problem and calling for cuts to its capital budget to be reversed.

Somerville (below) told the Daily Record said that a “joint approach” will be needed to combat problems.

The National: Scottish Social Justice Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville spoke in a debate on the UK-wide Bill on Tuesday (Jane Barlow/PA)

She said: “Too many people in Scotland are struggling to make ends meet due to housing costs – or struggling to find suitable housing at all.

“We will continue to do everything we can with the powers at our disposal to make progress – but truly tackling the housing emergency will rely on a joint approach between the UK, Scottish and local government.”

She added that she wanted MSPs across the Holyrood chamber to “unite with one voice to demand a change in approach and an end to austerity which has caused untold harm to people across the country.”

The Cabinet secretary also called on the UK Government to “commit to reversing the almost 9% cut to Scotland’s capital budget”.

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Shortly before he resigned as first minister, Humza Yousaf (above) pledged an uplift of £80 million for affordable housing over two years.

A spokesperson for the UK Government said: “Decisions at Spring Budget took our direct investment in levelling up Scotland past the £3 billion mark, and the Scottish Government receives around 25% more funding per person than equivalent UK Government spending in other parts of the UK through its record £41bn per year settlement.”

Scottish Greens reaction

The Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie (below) has said a national system of rent controls in the private sector is crucial to tackling the housing emergency.

The National: The future of the power-sharing deal between the Scottish Greens and the SNP is set to be determined, Patrick Harvie said. (Jane Barlow/PA)

During his time as minister for tenants’ rights, Harvie introduced legislation that is still working its way through parliament to provide a national system of rent controls.

“One of the biggest drivers of the housing emergency is the eye-watering private sector rents that far too many people are being forced to pay," he said. 

“The market is broken, and needs fundamental change. That’s why, when the Scottish Greens were in government, we used emergency legislation to introduce a ground-breaking rent cap and protections that went far beyond anything that has happened in any other part of the UK. This protected thousands of households and families.

“Now we need to make permanent changes. What we really need is a national system of rent controls and protections that will allow tenants to feel more security and make a house a home. These are at the heart of the housing bill that I introduced and which is making its way through parliament.

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“These policies must not be scaled back or watered down. It is vital that we use every power we have to support households and families on the frontline of the emergency.

“I hope that all parties will back our call today, to make sure that an effective system of rent control becomes a reality. Together, we can send a loud and clear message that our parliament supports tenants and that we will stand up to those who are trying to entrench a broken status quo.”