Edinburgh council has announced proposals to build 1,100 new council homes in the city. This represents a major breakthrough for the future of council housing in Scotland.
It is also a vindication of the left’s arguments against the privatisation of social housing and shines a beam of hope for council housing campaigners in England and Wales.
“They said it would never happen – but it has” said one Edinburgh housing campaigner, reacting to the announcement.
A series of no votes in stock transfer ballots has forced the Scottish government and Edinburgh council to look in a different direction.
Councillor Paul Edie, the city’s housing leader, said, “I am really pleased to announce that we aim to build the first new council housing in Edinburgh for nearly 20 years.
“This is the first time in a generation that the council has considered building homes. It marks a major shift in strategy.”
Public anger at New Labour’s mantra of “public bad, private good” played a major role in securing the return of council housing in Edinburgh.
It was opposition to Labour’s agenda of war and privatisation that led to the Scottish National Party (SNP) winning power last year. They now want to show that they are at least a little different to New Labour.
Although the SNP government is not a radical one, small policy shifts are making a difference. In this case the Scottish government put together a £25 million package to encourage the building of new council houses across Scotland.
The tide is turning in favour of council housing in Scotland. Tenants and campaigners in England and Wales have also delivered many votes against stock transfer.
It is crucial that the political pressure is kept up to deliver changes needed there.