HUNDREDS of millions of pounds are to be spent across Scotland on increasing the supply of affordable housing, creating jobs and boosting the economy, it was confirmed today.
Today’s announcement will see all of Scotland’s 32 councils receive a share of almost £582 million in subsidy over the next three-years. This is part of the Government investment of at least £710m in the Affordable Housing Supply Programme (AHSP).
The funding will be used to encourage councils and housing associations to build greener homes by providing a larger Government subsidy for houses built to meet higher standards in areas like energy efficiency.
And rural areas, which experience higher developments costs, will also be helped with higher Government contributions to ensure that housing developments can be successfully delivered in remote parts of the country.
Housing Minister Keith Brown said: “Housing is and will remain a priority for this Government and we will continue to invest in new affordable homes. Despite the severe cuts to our budgets by the UK Government, this is a substantial funding boost that will support house building across Scotland.
“We have listened to councils and housing associations and put in place a system of funding for housing based on forward planning instead of making councils and housing associations bid for funds. This will provide greater certainty and allow councils to make plans for the future.
“This Government has successfully championed innovation in house building, which means that we can now deliver more houses for the money we spend.
“Against that background, we are also encouraging the construction of greener, more energy efficient homes. And we also recognise the particular challenge for housing in remote and rural areas and will provide greater Government subsidy for housing developments in those areas.
“This funding keeps us on track to deliver more than 6000 affordable homes per year, of which 4000 will be social homes. But we must continue to work together to get the most from our resources and ensure that we deliver our vision that everyone should have a safe, warm home which they can afford.“
Mary Taylor, CEO of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHAY said: “Building more affordable housing is an urgent priority and so we welcome this clarification of the new funding arrangements and the fact that the Scottish Government is continuing to provide investment.
“The new funding regime is more streamlined, while allowing for more flexibility for rural areas and vitally, for more energy-efficient housing. We welcome the three-year programme, which will make planning easier.
“There remain significant challenges and increasing pressures for our member housing associations and co-operatives in delivering genuinely affordable housing.
“Our sector will continue to work with government and private lenders to address these so that we can build badly-needed affordable homes for the many people in Scotland who need them.”
Jim Hayton, Policy Manager of the Association of Local Authority Chief Housing Officers (ALACHO) said: “We are heartened that the Scottish Government listened to local government concerns about the ineffective use of challenge funding, reverting instead to a three year resource planning system, firmly rooted in the priorities identified in local strategic housing plans.
“We firmly believe this will facilitate better forward planning and more effective use of resources in the delivery of affordable housing.”