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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 September, 2004, 15:09 GMT 16:09 UK
Affordable homes plans outlined
Row of houses on estate
The aim is to make more affordable homes available
Plans to increase the number of low-cost homes built in Scotland have been outlined by the Scottish Executive.

Communities Minister Margaret Curran has explained how she will spend the extra 100m to be made available over the next three years.

The package of measures includes details on providing more rented housing and trying to improve the prospects for first-time buyers.

The minister also wants to look at ways of boosting housing investment.

Ms Curran explained the new measures during an address to the Council of Mortgage Lenders Scotland annual conference in Edinburgh.

Finance Minister Andy Kerr announced that the Scottish Executive will spend an additional 100m on affordable housing by 2007-2008 during his budget address at Holyrood on Wednesday.

The review gives us up-to-date, detailed information which we can now use to set about tackling the problem
Margaret Curran MSP
Communities Minister

This is aimed at increasing the number of homes available for rent or purchase at what are called "affordable rates" from 18,000 to 21,500.

The money for this development will be channelled through housing associations.

Some of the new homes will be built for purchase, perhaps through shared equity schemes, while others will be for rent.

Ms Curran said: "An extensive review of affordable housing undertaken by the executive this year confirmed that Scotland has real housing hot-spots, where getting hold of a decent home is hard.

"The review gives us up-to-date, detailed information which we can now use to set about tackling the problem. Today's huge boost in housing investment will expand supply of new affordable housing at the fastest possible pace."

She added: "It means that we will be able to meet a range of housing objectives simultaneously. We will tackle acute demands for affordable housing in pressured housing markets - urban and rural.

"At the same time we can keep driving forward the task of breathing new life into run-down and unpopular areas, demolishing, refurbishing and rebuilding to give people the housing they deserve."

Alan Ferguson, of the Chartered Institute of Housing, said the extra investment was welcome.

However, he added: "It works out at roughly 700-750 extra homes a year...and we need an extra 5,000 homes a year."

Shelter response

Shelter Scotland welcomed Mr Kerr's commitment to affordable housing but warned that the investment was needed to support the executive's ambitious plans rather than being swallowed up by the runaway housing market.

Head of campaigns Gavin Corbett said: "It is encouraging that the housing budget seems to be recovering from the post-war low point of 1997 to 1999. There is no shortage of things to do.

"With a million children living in bad housing in Britain we need a crusade not just a spending programme.

"The Scottish Executive has already committed to ending homelessness by 2012. It cannot do that without more decent affordable housing. Next year a major housing bill will promise better conditions for Scotland's 170,000 private tenants, but that will only succeed with sufficient funding.

"It is important that extra money does not just get sucked into propping up the failing housing market, paying for the ever-rising cost of homes and land.

"If the housing market is producing homes that are not affordable for ordinary families then more affordable homes need to be built."

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