East Lothian Courier – 20 July 2023


It’s not just food that people are struggling to access but homes. There’s a crisis as those who can’t buy or afford high rents in the private rented sector struggle to obtain council or housing association accommodation. As with other aspects of poverty it’s a far cry from what I experienced as a youngster.

I recall applying for a council house in West Lothian and within months but certainly under a year being offered an upper villa tenancy in the town I grew up in. In a nice area though nothing special at the time. I declined as I was moving work and a location change was coming.

Nothing like that would be available now. The waiting list for council accommodation for a single person’s years, if ever, unless they have some special needs and even then, it’s complex and lengthy. Family accommodation’s likewise scarce and what’s on offer limited and sometimes rather lacking.

None of that’s the fault of council staff trying their best. But after my endeavours Thatcher sold off council stock and at a discount. The Scottish Government has thankfully ended that, but the damage done is huge. Now what council stock remains is limited. Entire schemes have disappeared and what remains has often been marginalised into less desirable areas.

It’s why there has to be a national push to build council and housing association accommodation. The Scottish Government has done much better than the UK but much more needs done. The misery for many’ s great. It won’t be quick or easy but it must be done. Shelter after all’s a human right just like food.

I’ve written before about the scandalous situation in this country with the Foodbank struggling to meet the need. But however bad it is here, it’s far worse in the developing world. A recent briefing sent to me by ActionAid disclosed that some essential food prices such as pasta and bread had risen by more than 100% in 14 developing countries. It’s occurred partly because of the war in Ukraine but whilst there’s money for war, where’s the aid for hunger.