Plan lays foundations of homes for all


Scotland will gain 21,500 affordable homes as a result of a three-year, £1.17 billion plan to give everyone a decent home and support growth in the economy.

The new plan, announced today by Communities Minister Margaret Curran, represents a one-third increase in housing approval rates over current levels, rising from around 6,000 homes per year to 8,000 in 2007/08.

This means that more homeless people will be able to get out of temporary accommodation, more people on waiting lists will get rented housing, and more first time buyers and essential workers will be helped onto the first rung of the property ladder.

By 2007/08, the Executive's funding package means that the rate at which new homes for social rent are approved for construction will increase to 6,400 per year: the biggest programme of social rented housing provision since the late 1980s - twice as many per head compared to current English plans.

It will also allow expansion in support for low-cost home ownership, with 5,000 homes to be approved over the three year period.

Ms Curran said:

"An extensive review of affordable housing undertaken by the Executive this year confirmed that Scotland has real housing hot-spots, where getting hold of a decent home is hard.

"The review gives us up-to-date, detailed, information which we can now use to set about tackling the problem.

"Today's huge boost in housing investment will expand supply of new affordable housing at the fastest possible pace.

"It means that we will be able to meet a range of housing objectives simultaneously.

"We will tackle acute demands for affordable housing in pressured housing markets - urban and rural.

"At the same time we can keep driving forward the task of breathing new life into run-down and unpopular areas, demolishing, refurbishing and rebuilding to give people the housing they deserve.

"But it's more than just bricks and mortar everywhere. We also need to work smarter, not just harder. We need wider understanding of local markets, better forecasting, and smoother planning systems to deliver the right homes in the right places at the right time.

"That's work we will be taking forward, and in forthcoming weeks, I'll provide more detail on just how we are to meet that challenge. This is a real example of devolution delivering for Scotland."

The housing investment programme will be managed primarily by Communities Scotland, the Executive's housing and regeneration agency.

Key points from today's announcement

  • Raising the overall target for affordable house building from the current three-year target of 18,000 new approvals to 21,500, consisting of 16,500 homes for social rent and 5,000 for low-cost home ownership
  • This means an increase in overall annual output from a current level of around 6,000 units to 6400 next year, to 7100 in 2006/07 and 8000 in 2007/08
  • The increase in social rented homes will help towards the 2012 target to give all homeless people the entitlement to a permanent home, while also improving the availability of social housing for rent for people on housing waiting lists
  • The increased creation of low-cost homes will help meet the aspirations of those on modest incomes who are seeking to move into home ownership or have been priced out of the market in areas of high housing demand
  • Consultation on a new system for the delivery of a more efficient and strategic housing investment programme, including how best to manage funding to maximise flexibility and make best use of resources
  • Consultation on the potential for new Housing Market Area Boards which could provide a mechanism to advise on regional priorities, and inform investment decisions at this level

The Spending Review plans relate to financial years 2005/6-2007/8. They provide a total of £345/347/389m for new supply and replacement of affordable housing.

This means an increase in direct spend by the Executive on affordable housing from £286m in 2004-05. The figure rise to 378/376/418m when receipts and funding from council tax on second homes are taken into account.

Total planned spending on affordable housing in the present year, 2004/5, is £286.5 million, having been boosted by an additional £20 million for early action in both urban and rural areas.

In Edinburgh, different streams of funding are already being combined in a new approach to deliver community ownership and new supply of up to 10,000 affordable homes over the next 10 years. Early action funding of £45m, linked to the Council's decision to promote stock transfer, has already been allocated for 2004/5 - 2006/7.

This early action programme will produce in excess of 1,000 additional affordable homes across the City. This year the programme is funding the purchase of around 20 sites for development by Registered Social Landlords and the acceleration of nine projects to produce around 250 units for social rent.

Recognising the acute pressures existing in rural areas, additional resources this year of nearly £15m - an increase of 23 per cent - have been allocated to rural areas for affordable housing, raising the rural share of the housing programme this year to 29 per cent - an all time high.