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Islands Housing Fund builds just seven homes since 2016

October 4, 2019 12:00 AM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

Scottish Liberal Democrats have today revealed that a Scottish Government scheme to boost house building and refurbishment on Scotland's islands has completed the building of just seven homes since it was launched in 2016.

In response to parliamentary questions from Orkney MSP Liam McArthur, Housing Minister Kevin Stewart revealed that just seven homes had been completed and only a quarter of the ring-fenced £5 million fund has been allocated so far.

The scheme was adopted by the Scottish Government after Scottish Liberal Democrats won support for it in a parliamentary debate on 13 September 2016.

Commenting on the figures, Mr McArthur said:

"Our island communities have a pressing need for more affordable homes, yet these figures show that the Scottish Government is much better at constructing press releases than they are at bricks and mortar.

"Construction work in our island communities comes with its own set of challenges but there is no excuse for such a slow start to this scheme. Those with experience of the scheme suggest there are too many 'obstacles' in the way of drawing down funding. The Scottish Government must do far more to remove those obstacles and support communities in developing applications.

"We also need a commitment from Ministers not to clawback much needed resources in the event that projects take a little longer to deliver. The government should also be looking to provide incentives to make sure many of the neglected and vacant properties across the country are renovated and brought up to an acceptable standard.

"There is an opportunity to ensure island communities get the affordable housing they need, but the Scottish Government must do more to help them seize that opportunity."