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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Chaos at Holyrood: Scotland's charities speak out

 

Hard fought for policies which can transform lives must be maintained, they say

Political turmoil at Holyrood must not derail progressive legislation, Scotland’s charities have warned.

Humza Yusaf’s administration was plunged into chaos this week after he pulled the plug on the power-sharing Bute House Agreement (BHA) between the SNP and the Scottish Greens.

As this is being written, the situation is still fluid and subject to change, but as it stands the first minister faces a vote of no confidence tabled by the Conservatives, and a vote of no confidence in his entire government brought by the Labour Party.

It is unclear whether he, or indeed his government, will survive, with the Greens, stung from their sudden ejection from power - though facing their own internal divisions over the BHA – indicating they will vote against the first minister on the Tory motion.

There is clearly some concern in the sector that a new Scottish Government, possibly tacking to the right, may change course on issues such as the climate crisis, housing and fuel poverty.

The situation was partly brought to a head by last week’s ditching of climate targets by the Scottish Government.

Scotland’s environmental charities reacted furiously then – and said that the end of the BHA “does not change the fact” that the Scottish Government needs to get its climate plans back on track.   

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “Despite this news, one thing remains the same – the Scottish Government must urgently continue to take steps to address the climate and nature emergency. There is overwhelming public support in Scotland for action that will create jobs and deliver warmer homes, cleaner air, and support more farmers to adopt climate and nature-friendly practices.

“Specifically, we need to see action to ensure the proposed Heat in Buildings and Natural Environment Bills are delivered.

“We will continue to work with all the political parties to ensure Scotland does everything it can to seize the benefits for both people and planet that will come from rapid and sustained delivery of action to address climate change and nature loss.”

A Friends of the Earth Scotland spokesperson said: “The end of the Bute House Agreement does not change the fact that the first minister must take responsibility for getting Scotland’s climate plans back on track, strengthen the desperately weak policy package offered last week and recommit to bringing down climate pollution in line with our 2030 legal targets. 

“The announcement that the Scottish Government wants to scrap its critical 2030 climate target has caused huge anger and concern amongst people who, regardless of their political persuasion, clearly recognise that we need urgent action this decade.

“The government must urgently clarify how they will deliver the vital climate legislation that will bring down pollution and improve lives through both the Circular Economy Bill and the Heat in Buildings Bill, both of which are were being overseen by Green ministers.”  

Meanwhile, anti-poverty campaigners said there must be no roll back on ambition to fight the effects of the cost of living crisis.

Simon Francis, coordinator of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, said: “The Scottish Government must not abandon the vital work it can do to help end fuel poverty. 

“Ministers must continue to provide extra support to vulnerable households with their energy bills, speed up progress on insulating cold damp homes and prioritise bringing more renewables on stream.”

Fi Waters, spokesperson for the Warm This Winter campaign, added: “Whatever happens going forward, what people really want is a government that puts ordinary people’s interests before energy industry profits by investing in permanent solutions, including home insulation and homegrown renewable energy. That’s the way to reduce our dependence on oil and gas, protect us from price shocks and lower bills for good. 

“We hope the new Scottish Government will do just that.”

On housing, the Scottish Federation of Housing Association (SFHA) called for an “urgent reset” on the “faltering” affordable homes programme after the collapse of power sharing.

It said political turmoil at Holyrood cannot distract from Scotland’s housing emergency.

The Scottish Government’s record on housing has been under intense scrutiny following a huge £196 million cut to the country’s affordable housing budget, while figures published last month pointed to the lowest number of homes started by housing associations last year than at any point since 1988.

SFHA chief executive Sally Thomas said that the country’s housing emergency transcended party politics.

She said: “The turmoil we are seeing at Holyrood cannot distract from the real and present threat of Scotland’s housing emergency.

“Amid record homelessness and with 10,000 children living in temporary accommodation, the need for safe, warm, and affordable rented homes grows ever greater.

“The first minister has said that the end of the Bute House Agreement represents a ‘new beginning’ for the Scottish Government, and we’d therefore call for an urgent reset on the huge cut to the affordable housing supply programme which is already faltering due to a lack of investment.

“Irrespective of which political parties are in government, Scotland is in desperate need of more social homes- this can only be delivered through sustained public investment.”

Meanwhile, tenants union Living Rent said that the Housing Bill, introduced in March, must be prioritised.

It was backed by the Scottish Greens and includes action on establishing rent controls.

Living Rent said: “The Bute House Agreement is over, but rent controls can not be allowed to go with it. Rent controls are a hugely needed policy to address Scotland's housing crisis.

“If the SNP wants the backing of tenants they will keep their commitment to renters and the policies that we need.”

 

Comments

0 0
Ruth Price
about 2 months ago

Has anyone actually costed the actual cost - not just putting wishful thinking statistics into a computer, of how much an ordinary person/family would have to pay to live. Has anyone thought of what we would have to do without if we do away with petrochemical products? Why do parties and the media not inform us what we would have to do without? How are batteries going to be recycled? Does anyone know?