Associations must show they ‘deserve’ government funding

Housing associations and local authorities in Scotland have been told they must build the homes to match funding.

Scottish government have issued a warning to housing that the funding may not last forever.

Currently, Scottish government is providing £3bn to build 50,000 affordable homes, with 35,000 of them being for social rent.

While good progress has been made so far, delivery now needs to be ramped up.

Speaking at Scottish Federation of Housing Associations development conference, Mark Turley of Scottish government said the opportunity to build “is too good to not take up”.

He said: “Success from colleagues in Scottish government in securing investment in housing means other departments have less.

“We must show why we deserve it.”

Also speaking at the session was Caroline Dicks, also representing the government, who said: “I can’t emphasise how important this year is.

“Especially in getting the approvals of social housing so we know where it is going to be built.”

But Dicks said associations and authorities should be confident: “Associations and councils can plan to build, in the knowledge that we will provide increasing budget over the next three years.

“Housing is key to providing opportunity across Scotland.

“The economic benefits of housing is clear. Thousands of construction jobs, good quality housing has a positive impact on health and education.”

Dicks praised associations for helping out other local authority areas where they could, but said the quality of homes built is important.

She said: “While it is government that is providing a lot of the funding, it is you that is doing the commissioning.”

Turley built on this, saying that “at present, there isn’t a Scottish system to measure performance or quality in new-builds.”

He said the sector could work together to improve this and implement a standard, and that the sector was “well placed” to do so.

There were fears from delegates that the programme might not hit the target.

But Dicks said the target was “absolutely achievable”, pointing to completions, what’s in the pipeline and what is planned.

She said: “I’m optimistic about it but there are no guarantees.”

Delegates also raised concerns about what happens to funding and focus after the current parliamentary term.

Concerns included reduced targets, leading to this programme being needed again in a few years time.

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