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Housing Emergency Declared in Fife

A housing emergency in Fife has been officially declared by local councillors. Unprecedented strain on housing and homelessness services, as well as lack of funding, were blamed for this state of affairs, making Fife Council the fourth Scottish local authority to make such a decision following Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Argyll and Bute.

Cllr. Judy Hamilton, the council’s housing spokesperson, attributed the recent 26 per cent cut to the Scottish Government’s Affordable Housing Budget as the final straw leading to this declaration. The Courier reports that there are now 13,566 people currently waiting for a council house in Fife, while an estimated 2,700 new homeless applications are due to be filed by the end of the month. 

Sally Thomas, Chief Executive of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA), stated, “Amid a backdrop of increasing homelessness, a severe shortage of social homes, and repeated Scottish Government budget cuts, it is clear that all of Scotland faces a housing emergency.”

The statement continued, “It’s unlikely that Fife will be the final local authority to make this declaration, and until the Scottish Government commits to sufficient funding for the affordable, secure, rented homes Scotland needs, then its long-term strategy for housing will continue to unravel.”

An emergency housing action plan is scheduled to be presented to a cabinet committee meeting in June, written in collaboration with groups such as Shelter Scotland. 

The Saint spoke to Claire Taylor, Head of Action for the Campaign for Affordable Student Housing (CASH). She argued that the housing crisis should have been declared long ago, and that issues surrounding cost of living, accommodation availability, and funding Scottish students are fundamentally interlinked. 

“We realised this is a much wider issue and the only way to fix St Andrews students’ experiences is to look at the wider picture and really ask who can actually make a change,” she said. “The University is trying their best, we need to look elsewhere to the government so that’s what we’ve been doing this year.”

CASH has led initiatives such as food drives, the Save Our Scottish Universities campaign, and created a Rent Map for transparency for students renting in St Andrews. 

“CASH is currently undergoing a transition,” Taylor said. “We need younger students to get involved and take over CASH because most of us are leaving. We really want to recruit people who are interested in thinking about how to save St Andrews and what to do about the cost of living, especially with accommodation.”

Image by Helen Lipsky

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