21st April 2018
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New homes boost as Holyrood pledges £14 million to build affordable housing

An unexpected funding boost has been given to the SIC to bring much needed affordable housing to the isles.

The Scottish government has announced this week that £14.3 million will be allocated to the council over the next three years.

An unexpected £14 million boost means up to 175 new affordable homes will be built in Shetland.

In 2018-19, £4.291 million will be allocated in grant funding to Shetland Islands Council – rising to £4.855 million in 2019-20 and £5.179 million in 2020-21.

Housing manager for the SIC, Anita Jamieson said they had been working on the understanding of about £4 million over the next three years.

The new figure equates to about 175 houses.

Ms Jamieson said: “This is good news and follows on the Scottish government’s commitment to increase the supply of affordable housing. This means that we will have the resources to scale up the programme in future years in partnership with Hjaltland Housing Association. We have already submitted a programme in excess of the previous minimum assumptions.

“Alongside the main social rented funding we are also exploring other funding streams for rural and island housing with a couple of local groups. We hope this will lead to housing projects that can help sustain more remote areas where there is less housing pressure but still a housing need.”

Members of the SIC’s development committee were given a housing update on Monday, before the government announcement.

Councillors heard between April 2016 and March 2017, 586 new applications were received and registered on the housing register – up by 24 on the previous year. At March 2017 there 661 applications on the housing register – down 78 from March last year.

Considering the council housing stock the “over-riding demand” is for single person accommodation in Lerwick, members were told.

The number of homeless applications has fallen from more than 140 in 2014/15 to just short of 120 in 2016/17.

However, the housing service is looking to tackle the length of time people are in temporary accommodation as it rose to an average of almost 500 days in 2016/17, compared to 300 in 2013/14. The council has 140 homes for temporary accommodation.

Announcing the funding, housing minister Kevin Stewart said this would support the government’s ambitious commitment of delivering 50,000 affordable homes by 2021.

He said: “We are ensuring that Shetland has homes that are high-quality, efficient and affordable.

“Today, we are announcing to local authorities how much money they’ll have to invest in affordable housing until the end of this Parliament. It means they can plan these new affordable homes now – with the certainty that the funding will increase year-on-year.

“This is also an important signal to the house-building sector in Scotland and demonstrates our commitment to the industry and the estimated 14,000 jobs our affordable housing supply programme supports each year.”

11 comments

  1. Christopher Johnston

    £14.3 million divided by 175 homes is £81,714 per home in Shetland.
    £81,714 times 50,000 homes in Scotland is over £4,000,000,000.
    The present Scottish budget deficit is £6,500,000,000, or 9.5% of the budget.
    How will these homes be funded while the budget deficit is reduced, while the price of North Sea oil remains low?

    Reply
    • Robert Sim

      What deficit, Christopher? The Scottish Government has to set and deliver a balanced budget each year. We can therefore take it for granted that the money is already there to fund these houses. Good news, then. (Are you perhaps referring to the notional and flawed GERS estimates?)

      Reply
      • Christopher Johnston

        I am referring to the GERS estimates, but I do not view them as flawed. After all, they are prepared by the Government and will be optimistic of the real situation.
        Regardless of deficit or not, under the present situation where will the Government find a spare £4,000,000,000 to spend on housing?

  2. Robert Sim

    I was happy to hear this on Radio Shetland last night and to see it confirmed today. It is good to see real financial support by the Scottish Government for housing locally.

    Reply
    • John Tulloch

      Not before the time. Too little, too late.

      Nevertheless, another victory for the good sense of the Shetland electorate, having rejected SNP voter coercion now on four successive occasions, starting with the 2014 referendum.

      The SNP thought they would win Orkney and Shetland with their ex-Labour whizz spin doctor Jonathan Wills but they were crushed at the polls.

      They are still hoping for Indy2 and they now know that, in the event of a Scotland Yes vote, they may expect a Shetland No and that, unless they change their attitude and damaging policies, they will be faced with the devastating prospect of Shetland going its own way.

      Reply
      • Robert Sim

        John, how on earth do you get to this conclusion? No – cancel that – I know that your conspiracy theory about the Scottish Government and the SNP is very real for you. The truth you seem unable to face is that this Holyrood administration governs for the whole nation and isn’t into giving out bribes because of their desperation to win one seat or another. Residents of Shetland will just the welcome the news.

        And I see “Shetland going its own way” has again been revived. How exactly would that happen again, at any point in the future, given that no political party backs this idea?

      • John Tulloch

        What a short memory you have, Robert.

        Whenever I complained of unfair treatment in the past, you were one of the foremost in advising that Shetlanders must vote SNP since Tavish was isolated, unable to influence such decisions, and in order to be effectively represented, Shetlanders must vote SNP as they were the only ones who had any power.

        Then all islanders’ complaints would be quickly sorted out.

        I didn’t invent the conspiracy theory you refer to. You and Robin Stevenson did that for me. 🙂

      • Robert Sim

        I can see I had better explain, John. You and others on here have repeatedly taken what I have said about the common sense of having an MSP from the governing party and made it into a script along the lines of “vote SNP or else”. I have never claimed that Shetland would be badly treated under the SNP – as this welcome news makes clear – or that returning an SNP MSP would suddenly release a flood of funding deliberately held back by a petulant government: that ridiculous and rather childish notion has all been expressed in the febrile posts of others. It simply makes sense, to repeat myself, to have an MSP with some clout; but the Scottish Government (unlike the Westminster version) has repeatedly proved itself willing to engage with Shetland and the other island communities irrespective of whom we return to Holyrood. That is the grown-up world.

      • John Tulloch

        If, as you have said many times and repeated again now, it would be better for Shetland to “have an MSP from the governing party”, then it inevitably follows that it is worse for Shetland NOT to have an MSP from the governing party.

        Thus Shetland would be penalised for not voting SNP so let’s look at the evidence:

        * 23 percent (£20 million per year) cut in SIC funding since 2011, reportedly the worst deal of any council in Scotland.

        * West coast ferry route prices halved while pledges to Shetland and Orkney to cut NorthLink prices have not been fulfilled.

        * Etc.

        An ‘open and shut case’.

      • Robert Sim

        John, I can see I will have to explain my words again to you, as you have a tendency to take things very literally.

        In my last reply to you, I was careful not to say that Shetland would be treated worse for not having an SNP MP. An SNP MSP would just be more effective. However let’s look at your “evidence”.

        Re LA funding, there is a formula for deciding LA funding agreed between COSLA and the Scottish Government. It is all transparent. No-one is out to “get” Shetland. If you want all Scottish authorities to have increased funding, then complain to Westminster – the Scottish Government can only spend what it’s given. Additional funding for the NHS was also allocated separately this year, as well for early Education and Childcare.

        Re ferries, there is, sensibly, a review of the whole tendering process underway and that will report in due course. It looks like that could lead to nationalisation of the ferry services – wouldn’t that be preferable to the present situation? Far better to review things properly. Premature, then, to shout about promises not being fulfilled.

        I see you don’t have any further ideas on achieving Shetland autonomy.

  3. James J Paton

    Mr Tulloch simply refuses to accept any good news that may come out of a Scottish Government led by the SNP. Whilst far from a fan of their approach to politics, which is no different to that of the Liberal-Democrats, Tories or Labour, John refuses to accept or understand that the Scottish Government does not have control of the full tax assets generated in Scotland and so has to work with what it is given by Westminster. Perhaps John needs reminding that Liberal – Democrat policy for many years has been for local income tax, giving local control at Scottish and local authority level over resources. The real test of this only really happens with independence, given Tory, Liberal and Labour’s unwillingness to properly devolve power and economic resources. Scotland still simply lacks the self-belief and confidence – it certainly has the talent and resources – to take its destiny into its own hands and abandon the flawed democracy and economic theory of Westminster’s project fear and austerity.

    Reply

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