Rural Housing Fund has delivered 59 homes in four years

Rural Housing Scotland has called for a restructuring of funding set up to deliver more homes for rural communities after new data revealed just 68 new homes were built under initiatives that promised more than 500.

Rural Housing Fund has delivered 59 homes in four years

Figures released under Freedom of Information laws show only 59 homes have been delivered in four years as part of the £25 million Rural Housing Fund, while a further nine have been completed under the £5m Islands Housing Fund.

The initiatives were due to run from 2016 to 2021 to tackle chronic affordable housing shortages in rural areas, with 500 homes initially anticipated under the Rural Housing Fund alone.

Derek Logie, chief executive of the Rural Housing Scotland, suggested the funding was not structured properly at the outset, meaning community-led schemes had often not been given the support they needed to take forward developments.

The two funds have supported house building schemes in Blairgowrie, Achiltibuie, Inverkeilor, Findhorn, Fort Augustus, Glenmoriston, Logiealmond, Drumnadrochit, Kelso, Gairloch, Durness, Mull, Harris, Lewis, Orkney, Aultbea, Abriachan and Innerleithen.

A series of further projects have been approved but are still to be completed.

But the total number of homes approved and completed falls far short of the stated aim in 2016, when the government said the fund would “provide an estimated 500 new affordable homes specifically to rural areas across Scotland”.

Mr Logie told the Press & Journal: “I think that is what happened, right at the start, they didn’t taper the money enough. They expected to be able to spend the money from a standing start.”

The need for more support to boost rural housing was highlighted in a report by the Scottish Land Commission in July.

Housing minister Kevin Stewart said: “Latest Scottish Government quarterly affordable housing supply statistics show that since the beginning of this parliamentary period we have delivered 34,791 affordable homes, over 23,000 of which were for social rent.

“These are part of the over 95,000 affordable homes delivered since 2007, over 66,000 of which were for social rent.

“Of these, more than 4,800 homes were delivered in rural and island locations.

“We are also working to ensure those who aspire to home ownership are able to achieve it, with over 35,000 households supported by our existing shared equity schemes since 2007.”

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