By LUCY ASHTON
Jackie Baillie, right, has joined her Scottish Labour colleagues in renewing calls for an emergency rent freeze as private sector rent in Scotland rises at the fastest rate on record.
Recent figures from the ONS show private rental prices in Scotland are now rising more than four times faster than they were before the pandemic, with increases consistently outstripping those in England and Wales.
In the 12 months to July 2022, prices in Scotland rose by 3.7 percent – the sharpest increase since records began in 2012.
In contrast, this figure was just 0.9 per cent at the same point in 2019, and 0.5 per cent in 2018.
These stark rises follow calls by Scottish Labour for the SNP-Green government to deliver an urgent rent freeze as part of a package of measures to tackle the growing cost of living crisis.
It also comes after it was revealed that West Dunbartonshire has the highest rate of homelessness in Scotland. There were 1019 households assessed as homeless in the authority area during 21/22, increasing from 146 the previous year
The Dumbarton constituency MSP said: “Rent is soaring at record rates while the SNP-Green government sit on their hands. This is of particular worry across West Dunbartonshire which has the highest rate of homelessness of any council area across Scotland.
“People here are already facing impossible choices this winter, and rent increases will pile pressure on tenants when they can least afford it.
“The SNP have wasted years blocking Labour’s plans for rent controls. Now their Green colleagues have left their credibility in tatters with their screeching u-turn now that they are in government.
“We need an immediate rent freeze to protect tenants from spiralling costs and get them through this crisis.”
Meanwhile, Jackie Baillie has welcomed Labour’s urgent plan to freeze the energy price cap this winter which would save families in Scotland £2.6 billion – by making sure they don’t pay a penny more on energy.
Labour’s Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves met with Jackie Baillie last week while in Scotland.
She said that the party’s plan to stop bills rising this winter would save the average household in Scotland £1,000, get energy costs under control for the future and help tackle inflation.
Labour’s fully-funded £29bn plan would prevent the energy price cap rising through the winter, paid for by an extra tax on oil and gas giants who are making eye-watering profits.
The party’s plan also includes all off-grid homes in Scotland, where families have faced serious challenges this year.
And their package cancels out the unfair premium penalty for customers using prepayment meters to pay for their energy. Prepayment customers, often those on the lowest incomes, will get an additional £300 compared to Direct Debit customers as part of Labour’s plan.
It means that households in West Dunbartonshire will receive £45m and, in neighbouring Argyll and Bute Council, households will get £42m.
The Dumbarton constituency MSP agreed with the Shadow Chancellor that Scotland was being failed by “two absent governments”, calling on the SNP government to use the powers they have to help people alongside action from the UK government.
Jackie Baillie said: “Families in West Dunbartonshire, Helensburgh and Lomond have been in contact with my office scared about how they will manage this winter with bills set to increase rapidly.
“These fears are rising while Scotland is being failed by two absent governments. The Tories are missing in action and the SNP are failing to take any decisive action within the powers they already have.
“Labour’s plan to save households in Scotland £1,000 this winter is a direct response to this national emergency and also includes investment in sustainable British energy to bring bills down in the long-term.
“Labour’s fully-funded plan would fix the problems immediately and invest to secure energy for the future – helping people here to pay their bills this winter while providing the foundations for a stronger, more secure economy.”
Index of Private Housing Rental Prices percentage change over 12 months:
Scottish Labour’s proposals for an emergency cost of living act set out calls for a temporary rent freeze to protect tenants from huge rent increases. This legislation should impose a freeze on rents, initially for at least nine months and with an option for it to be reviewed and extended up to two years. http://scottishlabour.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Emergency-Cost-of-Living-Act.pdf