Edinburgh’s Strategic Housing Investment Plan ‘facing £77m black hole’

The City of Edinburgh Council’s plan to deliver 20,000 new affordable homes by 2027 faces a funding shortfall of £77 million, new figures have revealed.

The local authority’s Strategic Housing Investment Plan (SHIP) for 2019 to 2024, which has been approved by the council’s housing and economy committee, sets out the delivery of more than 10,500 new homes over the next five years.

But The Scotsman has reported that the projected shortfall of funding has increased from an estimated £57m in 2016 when the council’s ambition was to build 8,000 homes over 10 years to £77m now the SNP-Labour coalition has pledged to construct 20,000 new homes by 2027.

The council believes the key risks to delivering its 20,000 homes include a “failure to secure suitable land for development” and that the plan “requires almost double the funding currently set out in Scottish Government’s three-year resource planning assumptions”.

Opposition councillors believe that 20,000 new homes will not do enough to tackle the capital’s housing problems. The latest housing need and demand assessment reveals there is demand for between 38,000 and 46,000 new homes in Edinburgh over 10 years and more than 60% need to be affordable.

Green Cllr Susan Rae said: “The SHIP has the most ambitious house-building programme in Edinburgh for many years. But even if the 20,000 target is met, it is below the 23,000-28,000 affordable homes that the city’s own assessment says are needed and the SHIP already says that there is a £77m shortfall in funding. Looking over the whole period, the funding needed, at £88m a year, is almost double what the Scottish Government has made available.

“The housing shortage is a massive blight on the city. With the highest housing costs in Scotland and social housing numbers far below the Scottish average, the only answer is to redouble efforts to build homes where they are needed and at prices people can afford and for the Scottish Government to support the council fully in doing that.”

Housing and economy convener, Cllr Kate Campbell, said: “It’s important to remember that the Scottish Government increased the level of grant funding for Edinburgh by £10m and gave certainty around funding for housing for three years.

“Last year we received, in total, an additional £10m in grant funding that other local authorities hadn’t managed to spend. This year we have received an additional £4m so far.”

She added: “Our SHIP report sets out our ambitious plans for building affordable housing in Edinburgh and makes the case to the Minister for the maximum allocation of grant funding to support building social homes in the city.

“We’ve made it clear that we are ready and able to spend any grant funding allocated to Edinburgh. But we are also working with partners and the Scottish Government to fund affordable housing in other ways, such as through loan funding, so that we are able to deliver on our commitment to build 20,000 affordable homes over 10 years.”

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