This week (Friday 30 August), at a seminar in Edinburgh, the CIH launches a new report: How Do We Secure More Investment for Council Housing in Scotland?
Alan Ferguson, Director of the CIH in Scotland said: 'What we are arguing is that the Scottish Executive needs to reconsider its blinkered approach of stock transfer being the only option for council housing in Scotland.
'There are problems in the Shetland Isles with financing transfer and now similar problems are beginning to emerge in the Scottish Borders. Elsewhere there is also only limited interest amongst other Scottish councils for stock transfer. Stock transfer can bring many benefits - not least improved housing and more say for tenants. However, it may not be the only or best way to deliver housing improvements for tenants. We want to see a mixed economy approach rather than a one shoe fits all approach.
'This report highlights the alternative ways of funding housing improvements for tenants by allowing local authorities to seek alternative financial arrangements. We want the Scottish Executive to look again at how best to tackle poor public sector housing conditions in Scotland.'
The report argues that Scottish councils should be able to retain their stock by using new funding options, where this is seen as the best way to improve housing and meet tenants' needs. This would involve:
- a proper assessment of the scale of investment needed,
- the introduction of a Scottish Decent Homes Standard,
- business planning to match investment and conditions,
- introduction of a prudential borrowing regime (already proposed for non-housing investment in Scotland),
- ability to retain capital receipts where financially prudent,
- Commitment to service debt for partial transfers,
- Housing Revenue Account (HRA) funding paid as a subsidy.
The report will be debated by senior housing professionals from across Scotland at the seminar.
The Chartered Institute of Housing in Scotland (CIH) is the professional body for people who work in housing, within local authorities, registered social landlords, central government, the private sector and a range of other bodies. The CIH has over 17,000 members in the UK with around 1,600 members in Scotland.
In March 2002 the Scottish Executive issued a consultation paper 'Renewing Local Democracy: The Next Steps'. Paragraphs 75 - 78 propose the introduction of prudential borrowing. Paragraph 79 specifically excludes housing from this.
The Seminar is being held at the Hilton Grosvenor on Friday 30 August 2002 from 12.30pm.
The seminar is chaired by Lynne McCulloch, President of the CIH in Scotland. Speakers include:
John Perry, Director of Policy CIH
Keith Anderson, City or Edinburgh Council
Mike Scott, Aberdeen City Council
Andrew Heywood, Council of Mortgage Lenders