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Number of disabled Scots on social housing waiting lists up 150%

The number of people with disabilities on social housing waiting lists in Scotland has soared by around 150 per cent over the last five years under the SNP.

Figures obtained by the Scottish Conservatives, via Freedom of Information requests, show that there are currently at least 24,209 disabled people on housing waiting lists, up from 9,714 in 2017.

However, the true extent of the problem – and the rise – is likely to be far higher, as just 23 of Scotland’s 32 councils provided us with the information requested. The remaining nine either did not hold data on disability or did not reply at all. The 2017 total was based on 26 of the 32 councils responding.

Astonishingly, one person with a disability in Edinburgh has been on the social housing waiting list for a staggering 59 years.

Shadow housing secretary Miles Briggs says the “shameful” figures illustrate how it’s vulnerable Scots who are suffering from the SNP’s poor record on housebuilding.

The figures come on the back of further recent research from the Scottish Conservatives which showed that there are almost 67,000 unoccupied properties in Scotland – more than 55,000 of which are domestic ones.

Scottish Conservative Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government Miles Briggs MSP said: “The SNP have a shameful record on social housing – and these shocking statistics show that it is the most vulnerable who are suffering as a result of it.

“This comes at a time when tens of thousands of unoccupied properties are lying empty, often derelict, across the county, neglected by Nicola Sturgeon’s government.

“It is appalling that almost 67,000 viable properties – 55,000-plus of them domestic properties – are being wasted in this way.

“To leave disabled people languishing on waiting lists for years – and in some cases decades – is disgraceful, especially when there are so many buildings lying empty.

“The Scottish Conservatives have proposed relaxing planning laws to enable the redevelopment of unoccupied buildings. It’s high time the SNP followed suit, especially as their record on new housebuilding is so poor.

“These figures also underline the need for my colleague Jeremy Balfour’s Disability Commissioner Members Bill. It would establish an independent commissioner with the job of championing the cause of disabled Scots and shining a light on injustices such as this.”   

 

Notes:

 

There are currently at least 24,209 people with disabilities on social housing waiting lists. Data obtained by the Scottish Conservatives, through Freedom of Information indicated that there are currently at least 24,209 people on social housing waiting lists. 23 local authorities responded to the request by providing data, while the remaining authorities either indicated that they do not hold the requested data, either because they did not hold data on disability or because they have transferred they have transferred their housing stock to independent companies. Three councils (East Renfrewshire, Highland, and Perth and Kinross) did not respond at all to the FOI requests. This indicates that the number of disabled people on social housing waiting lists is most likely even higher than 24,209 (FOIs available on request).

The number of people with disabilities on social housing waiting lists has increased by almost 150% since 2017. In 2017, 9,714 people with disabilities were reported as being on social housing waiting lists in 26 out of 32 local authorities. In 2022, there are at least 24,209 people with disabilities on social housing waiting lists in 23 out of 32 local authorities, presenting an increase of 149%. (iNews, 22 January 2018, link).

The longest a person with a disability has been on a waiting list has been 59 years. An FOI from Edinburgh City Council read: ‘The longest waiting time a self-assessed disabled applicant has had on the common housing register for social housing is from 1 Mar 1963. This application is registered by a household who have a home and are therefore classed as a ‘Mover’ for bidding through the choice-based letting system.’ (FOI available upon request).

There are almost 67,000 unoccupied properties currently in Scotland. Freedom of Information requests to all 32 local authorities, obtained by the Scottish Conservatives, indicated that there are currently 66,802 unoccupied properties in 30 Scottish local authorities which responded to the requested information,  with 55,477 of those being domestic properties and the remaining 10,309 non-domestic. The local authority with the highest number of unoccupied properties was Edinburgh with a total of 9,285 unoccupied properties, 8,589 of which are domestic. (FOIs available upon request).

The Scottish Conservatives proposed relaxing planning laws to allow for the re-development of unoccupied businesses into housing. In our 2021 manifesto we stated: ‘We would relax planning laws to allow for the re-development of long-term unoccupied business properties into good quality housing.’ (Scottish Conservatives, April 2021, link).