Page last updated at 17:04 GMT, Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Cash boost for affordable housing

House under contruction
The money will be used to bring house building projects forward

A 17m funding package to help speed up the supply of cheap homes across the country has been announced by the Scottish Government.

It is claimed the money will allow housing associations to buy both land and unsold homes in the private sector.

It could also kick-start construction work on existing developments.

The funding is part of 120m being spent ahead of schedule over three years to try to accelerate the supply of affordable housing.

The cash boost was announced by Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as she toured a housing project in Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire.

She said: "We are determined to help the country's businesses and households deal with the impact of the economic downturn and to provide much needed affordable housing as quickly as possible.

"This latest phase of funding will help to kick-start construction work across Scotland helping our hard-pressed construction workers weather the economic storm."

We urge the Scottish Government to work towards bringing the rest of the accelerated funding forward with speed. Scotland's housing time bomb is ticking
Graeme Brown
Shelter Scotland
The Link housing project in Cumbernauld is among those that will benefit from this funding, receiving more than 1.7m to purchase 24 unsold properties in the town from a private developer.

Chief executive of Link Group, Craig Sanderson, said: "We are delighted that the Scottish Government has made this funding available as it will increase the supply of affordable housing in many areas of Scotland - and particularly the provision of much-needed housing for rent here in North Lanarkshire.

Of the total, 10.1m will be spent across Scotland on buying houses from the private sector, 3.7m will be used to buy land for future projects by housing associations, and 3m will be used to bring forward building work on sites.

Homes for rent

A campaign to have 10,000 new affordable homes for rent built in Scotland was launched on Monday by the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA).

It was backed by the housing charity, Shelter Scotland, who have welcomed this latest funding announcement.

Director, Graeme Brown, said: "Investing in affordable housing right now is the solution to help house the thousands of people in Scotland without a home and help keep the construction industry on its feet.

"We look forward to seeing the details of how many of these homes will be for rent and urge the Scottish Government to work towards bringing the rest of the accelerated funding forward with speed. Scotland's housing time bomb is ticking."

Homes for Scotland, the organisation which represents companies building 95% of the Scotland's new housing also welcomed the funding announcement but said market conditions remained difficult for industry.

Chief executive Jonathan Fair said: "With the number of new home starts having plummeted during 2008, this accelerated investment is vital if we are to retain the skills and experience necessary to respond once market conditions improve.

"The reality, however, is that the supply of new homes will remain constrained until the overall availability of mortgage finance improves.

"We are therefore continuing to urge the Scottish Government to accelerate housing investment and expand these programmes wherever possible to ensure the benefits are felt by the wider economy."

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