Shetland is to receive more than £4 million from the Scottish government to increase the number of affordable houses in the isles.
SIC head of housing Anita Jamieson welcomed the additional funding, but stressed she was still absorbing the detail of the government’s new guidance, which has just been published.
Of the £4.17 million, only £1.43 million is actually new money geared towards helping the council, in partnership with Hjaltland Housing, to get homes built and help tackle the islands’ 1,000-strong waiting list.
Over the next two years, the two organisations already have plans in place to build 93 new affordable houses. Ms Jamieson said that, depending how the additional money ends up being allocated, a further 10-12, or possibly more, houses could be added.
The new funding method means the cash is being channelled through local authorities, but it applies to the whole area. Ms Jamieson said the SIC would draw up a “strategic local programme” so that it could work in harmony with housing associations and the Scottish government.
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 in Shetland.
“We have listened to councils and housing associations in the area 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.”
The isles will receive £4,166,000 over the next three years out of a total of £582 million for all 32 local authority areas in Scotland under the affordable housing supply programme (AHSP).
As well as funding affordable homes, the AHSP will encourage councils and housing associations to make them 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.
Mr Brown added: “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 6,000 affordable homes per year, of which 4,000 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.”