Private landlords north of the border have received more than £2bn in housing benefit over the past five years, new figures show.
According to fresh data from Scottish Labour, on average, a quarter of all housing benefits have gone to private landlords since 2011/12.
Labour said the figures underlined the SNP’s failure to tackle the housing crisis, and called for greater investment in Scotland’s private rented sector.
The data has also prompted Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Alex Rowley to call for action from the Scottish government.
He said: “I have been calling on the government for some time to address what is evidently a housing crisis spiralling out of control across Scotland.”
Aside from the fact that 25% of housing benefits is going to private landlords, the average private rented sector rent has rocketed by 14% since 2010.
“Money that is spent on housing benefits should be used to support those that need it, whereas instead we are seeing that money end up in the pockets of private landlords,” he added.
“That is why I want to see a reform of the private rented sector to ban rip-off rent rises.”
Rowley believes that significantly more homes need to be built to help address the problem, and that was why he had been calling for a national house build plan.
In response, the Scottish government has defended its track record on housing delivery.
A spokesperson said: “We have an excellent track record on housing and are committed to achieving sustainable, long-term solutions to address housing issues.
“In the previous session of Parliament, we exceeded our target of delivering 30,000 affordable homes by 10%, and our bold and ambitious More Homes Scotland approach will build on that achievement.
“We have committed to investing over £3bn to deliver at least 50,000 affordable homes over the next five years and by ending Right to Buy we are protecting up to 15,000 social homes for sale over the next 10 years and safeguarding this stock for future generations.
“This is accompanied by increased housing subsidy levels and a new rural and islands housing fund to increase the supply of affordable rural housing.”