Labour has taken a pop at the SNP’s record on housing, as local candidate Robina Barton has pledged help for first-time buyers.
The party says the number of people in Scotland aged 34 and younger who have bought their own home with a mortgage has fallen by 15 per cent.
Just 28 per cent of those aged 16-34 in Scotland own their home with a mortgage, Labour claims.
That is the lowest level since the Scottish Parliament was established in 1999.
Ms Barton said more needed to be done. She claimed to have personal experience of Shetland’s housing shortage, which had pushed rents up.
Launching her election campaign, she backed her party’s first manifesto pledge ahead of the May vote to effectively double the level of help first-time buyers receive towards saving for a deposit.
Scottish Labour says a person who saves through a first-time buyer ISA with a government top-up to the value of £3,000 would be entitled to an additional £3,000 from a Labour government at Holyrood.
The party says this means that the average couple in Shetland each saving £100 a month would be able to save for a £15,000 deposit within three years.
Ms Barton said: “Too many young people are stuck paying high rentals or living with parents because they can’t afford a deposit for a home of their own.
“I have experience of that myself. The accommodation shortage in Shetland means that rental prices here are particularly high.
“This initiative from Scottish Labour will encourage and, more importantly, help people to save.
“It will also help to address Scotland’s housing crisis and boost the economy by targeting investment in much needed new houses and flats.”
Her Highlands and Islands party colleagues, MSPs David Stewart and Rhoda Grant, also backed the party’s first manifesto pledge ahead of the Scottish election.
Mr Stewart said: “Everyone deserves a home and a chance, but too many young people are either living at home with their parents or stuck in expensive rents unable to get that first foot on the housing ladder.
“Home ownership is a big ambition for hundreds of thousands of young people but for too many it remains an ambition rather than a reality.”
Mrs Grant added: “The expectation of home ownership, seen as almost a right for previous generations are out of reach for too many people. That has to change.
“Under Scottish Labour’s plan we will effectively double the help towards saving a deposit for first-time buyers, investing an additional £3,000 for first-time buyers saving as part of our plan.”
She added the party would fund its promise by reversing the SNP’s plans to cut air passenger duty.
“A tax cut costs money, and we think that money would be better spent helping make the aspirations of young people in the Highlands and Islands a reality rather than making a plane ticket cheaper.”
Both MSPs have challenged SNP candidates in the region to make it clear whether they back the Labour plan.
“Our plan will give young people a leg up onto the housing ladder but also encourages them to save over three years. Scottish Labour will use the new powers coming to Scotland to reject austerity and give young people the chance to turn aspirations of home ownership into reality,” added Mrs Grant.
• Scottish Labour says a couple saving £100 a month each would between them save up £7,200 combined over three years. If they are participating in the Help to Buy ISA, they would receive a UK government top-up of £1,800. Under Scottish Labour’s plans, they would receive a further £6,000, giving them a total deposit of £15,000.