Rural and islands housing funds still ‘woefully slow’

The Scottish Government has spent less than half of its £25 million budget to help build rural affordable homes in five years.

Rural and islands housing funds still 'woefully slow'

Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron used parliamentary questions to confirm that £11.4m of the £25m allocated to the Rural Housing Fund had been distributed to date.

Collectively worth up to £30m, the Rural and Islands Housing Funds were launched in 2016 and will now run for an extended period.

A total of 500 homes were initially anticipated under the Rural Housing Fund alone, figures published in the Press & Journal in August last year revealed that only 59 homes had been delivered in four years under the scheme, while a further nine were completed using the £5m Islands Housing Fund.

It followed similarly low completion figures being published by investigative journalism platform The Ferret in July 2019.,

Conservative MSP Donald Cameron accused the SNP administration at Holyrood of “failing to deliver” after he found that the cash was being released at a “snail’s pace”.

He added: “Half of the funding they promised hasn’t found its way to those areas that vitally need good-quality housing.

“As we recover from the pandemic, meeting the demand for housing in our rural areas is crucial to our recovery to attract people to live and work in these communities.

“The SNP must guarantee that this funding will be delivered at a far quicker pace than they have managed in recent years, where progress has been woefully slow.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Rural and Islands Housing Funds have been described as ‘game changers’ for community-led housing development. Taken together with our £3.4 billion Affordable Housing Supply Programme they have delivered more than 4,800 affordable homes in rural and island communities between 2016-17 and 2019-20.

“The schemes were developed in collaboration with community housing trusts, with funding allocated to fully developed projects that obtained permission to deliver housing in their communities.

“We are working with partner organisations to further promote the schemes to ensure as many people are able to benefit as possible.”

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