by Mary Fee MSP

I was proud to recently publicise Scottish Labour’s new discussion paper on the private rented housing sector, aimed at tackling the housing crisis and soaring rents that many private rented tenants face.

It has been revealed that almost half of people made homeless due to rent arrears lived in the private-rented sector (PRS). Soaring private rents and the likely impact of universal credit are pushing people into homelessness.

A total of 46 per cent of homelessness applications were made due to either rent arrears or defaulting on payments come from the PRS, despite private-rented accommodation only accounting for 15 per cent of Scotland’s housing stock.

These statistics underline the need for an overhaul of the private rented sector where it appears rents are simply out of control and people are losing their tenancies far too easily.

The Scottish Government must listen to Labour and quickly establish why people are losing their tenancies and act before more people are made homeless.

Our discussion paper is calling on tenants and landlords to take part in an anonymous survey to hear the views from those affected by any proposed changes to reform the sector to ensure that it tackles the housing crisis and soaring rents.

If you are live or own property in the private rented housing sector, then I would urge you to have your say by visiting Scottish Labour’s website.

The 2017/18 GERS (Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland) figures show again that Scotland is better off in the union with higher spending per head than the rest of the UK, standing at currently £1,576 higher, and lower tax receipts per head.

Whilst the deficit attributed to Scotland has fallen slightly, it is still four times that of the UK.

It was an honour to visit Israel and Palestine recently with the cross-party group on building bridges with Israel.

I met representatives from Israel and Palestine and heard about the daily lives of those in the region. Holding informative discussions about peace with those from both sides of the debate helped expand my knowledge of the situation.

To achieve peace in the region, we need a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine.