Homes, Communities and Leisure
Councils should take a leading role in tackling poverty, meeting local need for affordable housing, cutting living costs and building opportunity. We will:
- Support the building of thousands more homes for social rent, and push the Scottish Government to elevate its nationwide target to match our ambition.
- Campaign for equality in the subsidies provided by the Scottish Government to councils and registered social landlords so that we can deliver more homes.
- Invest more in upgrading and maintaining existing council housing to raise living standards, including improving the surrounding landscape.
- Expand the supply of low-cost housing options, particularly for young people.
- Bring back more empty homes into use, reviewing the reasons properties are left vacant, using council buy back powers and campaigning for the Scottish Government to establish new Help to Renovate loans with a focus on first-time buyers.
- Help communities get the most of the Rural and Island Housing Fund secured by Scottish Liberal Democrats and, once it fulfils its potential, seek its extension.
- Support population growth in rural areas where there is no existing housing stock available for purchase.
- Work with our partners to seek to end homelessness.
We will give increased priority to tackling flooding including ensuring that any new building is balanced by improved and sustainable drainage. We will also support the Scottish Liberal Democrat campaign for a new Climate Emergency Communities Fund to prepare and protect people across Scotland already being affected by extreme weather.
For unpaid carers and those they care for, we will:
- Recognise unpaid carers with guaranteed respite alongside support for those who want to undertake or continue employment, training and education.
- Give carers the right to flexible working hours where it is in our power to grant this.
- Consider introducing a package of carer benefits including free leisure centre access and self-referral to socially prescribed activities and courses.
- Campaign for a £1000 UK-wide uplift to Carer's Allowance.
Most leisure and culture activities are not statutory, meaning they are often among the first victims of financial cuts. We will recognise that they are not luxuries but critical to quality of life at all ages. We will:
- Modernise council leisure and cultural facilities to meet community need.
- Support the retention and modernisation of library facilities and halls as community hubs, multi-use facilities, places of safety and learning.
- Work in partnership with voluntary sector organisations to develop a wide range of sporting and cultural opportunities, including expanding book bugs, activity coordinators and development support for clubs.
- Create new routes for people who are isolated, on low incomes or in poor health to take up leisure and recreation opportunities. We support the Scottish Liberal Democrat calls to help children and young people escape the impact of poverty with new guarantees that they will be able to experience life-changing activities outside of school, including the creation of a permanent nationwide Holiday Fun Fund.
We will work in partnership with the police to cut crime and back reforms to the justice system that work effectively to support victims and cut reoffending. We support the right of communities to engage meaningfully with the national force to influence local priorities and would campaign for new legislation to bring democracy back into Police Scotland.
We will support the Scottish Liberal Democrats' campaign for a commission to recommend urgent steps to prevent violence against women and girls in all its forms.