HOUSING is an increasing concern – not from the perspective of too many new-builds in areas where public services are already struggling to cope, whether doctors, dentists or even just infrastructure, but from the point of view of it just not being available at all.

East Lothian might not have the homelessness crisis seen on the streets of London and which is truly shameful. It’s not just folk sleeping in shop doorways but tents springing up. Not only are there health and security implications but participating in work and society is difficult if not impossible.

In the county it’s hidden as folk are couch surfing or staying with family or friends. The accommodation is both inadequate and unable to be the basis for a proper life. Yet the availability of council or social housing is limited, and rents and a mortgage beyond many.

It’s why the slashing of the housebuilding budget is calamitous and should be reversed by the Scottish Government. We need new homes to rent and not just supposed mid-market ones beyond many.

The fault started decades ago with Thatcher selling off council housing at a discount and Labour’s failure to reverse it. Councils lost stock but still had to service debt on what they’d built. New-build council housing all but ceased. That’s now ended but the loss is significant and so many more need built.

I recall when I was a young man, before Thatcher started the sell-off, applying for a council house in West Lothian. Within months, not even a year, I was offered one. As it was, I didn’t take it as I was moving work. But nowadays no such offer would be forthcoming – certainly not for a single person but more worryingly even for families. But many cannot hope to get on the property ladder by buying and private rentals can be extortionate. It’s why building new council housing is essential. But so’s restricting Airbnbs, as locals’ needs must take priority over holidaymakers.