Decision on subsidy rates critical to building affordable homes, says GWSF
Capacity to help deliver the Scottish Government’s new target of 50,000 social and affordable homes over between 2016 and 2020 will depend on what ministers decide to do with new build subsidy rates, according to the Glasgow and West of Scotland Forum of Housing Associations (GWSF).
In summer, the Scottish Government’s Subsidy Working Group, which included representatives from GWSF, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) and the Association of Local Authority Chief Housing Officers (ALACHO), recommended to ministers a subsidy rate increase in the region of 20 per cent for social and mid market rent.
GWSF has written to finance secretary John Swinney urging him to accept the Working Group’s recommendations in full, as he considers the Scottish budget ahead of presenting it to Parliament on 16 December.
GWSF chair Peter Howden said: “We recognise the financial challenges facing the Scottish Government. But the social rented sector was united in its call for increased subsidy rates to reflect building costs inflation and factors such as the cost of complying with the new Building Regulations.
“As community based housing associations, our members can’t pick and choose the easier sites to build on. They are focused on regenerating derelict sites and buildings to the benefit of their communities, and those sites are often challenging and more costly to build on, for example because of contamination.
“We don’t rely on subsidy for the sake of it, but because we believe that high quality housing at rents which people in low paid work can afford is something worth fighting for. That battle has long been lost down south but in Scotland we want to carry on showing that we’re not going down that route.”
GWSF’s letter to Mr Swinney says that the expanded investment programme should lead to a greater chance of bringing poor tenement housing in the private sector into use as social and affordable housing.
It also implores the Scottish Government to maximise regeneration funding – such as the People and Communities Fund – which goes directly to community based housing associations and other community anchor bodies.