IN May, I wrote to First Minister John Swinney, emphasising the devastating impact of homelessness and temporary accommodation on children’s welfare, well-being and life prospects.  

Addressing child poverty cannot be just a stated priority – it requires real action to provide adequate shelter, education, nutrition, water and health services, as highlighted by UNICEF.

A recent report stated that Govanhill, the area I represent as a councillor, has the highest child poverty rate in Britain, with more than 88% of kids aged up to 15 facing deprivation.  

There’s a severe shortage of larger family homes, forcing many children and families to live in overcrowded conditions. This is an issue that I hear about regularly and the resulting impact on health and wellbeing of families in the area.

Despite clear evidence from research about the severe impact of unsuitable housing on children’s mental health, the Scottish Government has cut affordable housing expenditure by £300 million in real terms over the past two years, with a staggering 26% cut in the last year alone.  

This has led to a 20% decrease in affordable homes and left almost 250,000 people languishing on social housing waiting lists in Scotland. In Glasgow alone, 980 children are living in inadequate temporary accommodations like bed and breakfasts, according to Shelter.

The First Minister didn’t bother to reply to me directly. Instead, I got a letter from the housing minister repeating the SNP line: “It’s Westminster’s fault.”  

Rather than tackling these urgent issues, the First Minister and his team deflect blame onto Westminster. Meanwhile, they failed to spend £130m from last year’s capital budget – a staggering oversight in a declared housing emergency.  

As Aditi Jehangir of Living Rent said: “It is beyond belief that they have declared a housing emergency whilst underspending money that could have gone straight into combatting the crisis.”

A few weeks ago, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations held an election debate in Glasgow. All main political parties attended except the SNP and Scottish Greens. This was a chance for them to discuss their record and present housing solutions. Their empty chairs spoke volumes about their priorities and action like this shows how little it seems to matter to them. I represented Scottish Labour, proud of our efforts to declare a housing emergency. At Glasgow City Council we have presented motions including potential housing solutions.

We know the chaos under Liz Truss’s Conservatives caused soaring mortgage rates and an unstable housing market, the impacts of which are still felt today. Their reckless policies have made it increasingly difficult for families to secure stable, affordable housing. Hope could have been with the Scottish Greens, but they have lost focus in Parliament. Their fixation on broader political goals and internal leadership issues have hindered action on urgent housing needs, leaving more Scots without a place to call home.

The SNP prefer to play the broken record of blaming Westminster, focusing on independence over addressing Scotland’s pressing issues, especially housing. Empty rhetoric does not give children homes.

In contrast, Labour offer a clear alternative, prioritising real solutions over empty talk. The Scottish Government must take responsibility for its devolved functions and budget rather than blaming Westminster.