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Housing shortage raised at Holyrood

By Fiona Reid
Housing shortage raised at Holyrood

THE shortage of affordable homes for rent across rural Scotland has been raised again by one of the region’s MSPs.

Finlay Carson, the MSP for Galloway and West Dumfries, has challenged the Scottish Government’s record over the last five years.

He highlighted the SNP’s promise to build 50,000 affordable homes but had failed to meet that goal.

Speaking at Holyrood, he said: “The Government’s record to date is not good since 2016, the SNP has promised to build 50,000 affordable homes and ministers have failed to meet that target.

“To March 2021, only 28,154 houses were completed in the social rented sector. In rural Scotland, the situation is even more concerning.

“SNP ministers spent less than half the £25 million budget that was allocated to rural housing funds – £11.4 million of that funding delivered just 59 affordable homes in rural Scotland over a four year period.”

He continued: “Ministers’ rhetoric is strong, but delivery of their promises in our rural communities is poor to say the least. Why should people in Dumfries and Galloway believe you that things are going to get better?”

His question comes just weeks after he raised the plight of a local community housing charity that encourages the construction of more affordable homes in remote and rural areas.

The South of Scotland Community Housing (SOSCH) is facing a cash crisis unless it receives core government funding.

The charity was initially founded after a study by Shelter Scotland identified a chronic shortfall in rural housing supply in Dumfries and Galloway. It provides both technical and professional support to 35 communities and landowners.

Mike Staples, of SOSCH, said the Rural Housing Fund had taken some time to build momentum and confidence in communities.

He added: “We believe the ability to deliver more through RHF relates not to amending the fund itself, but to providing resource to the organisations who are supporting successful delivery – particularly with the levels of current demand.

“We believe this issue is also pertinent to Scottish Borders where there have been very few projects through RHF and underpins our decision to extend our service support beyond Dumfries and Galloway.”

In her response Kate Forbes, Scottish finance secretary, said: “Planned investment in Dumfries and Galloway is almost £24 million in the current year alone and will enable an estimated 172 affordable homes.”

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