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Scottish councils have been offered the chance to wipe out their housing debt. ...
Scottish councils have been offered the chance to wipe out their housing debt.

In a letter to City of Glasgow Council, Scottish housing minister Calum MacDonald has confirmed for the first time that the government is prepared to tackle residual debt on housing transfers.

The prospect of being left with considerable debts, and no income with which to service them, has proved a barrier to Scottish councils transferring housing stock to community trusts under the New Housing Partnerships initiative.

Glasgow leader Frank McAveety has been particularly enthusiastic about transferring the council's stock of nearly 100,000 properties to a not-for-profit company.

But the council estimates it would be left with a residual debt of£930 million. More than 55% of the council's rents are currently absorbed by debt repayments.

Mr McAveety this week said Mr MacDonald's letter was 'a breakthrough after years of campaigning' and opened the door to a massive regeneration and investment programme.

Mr MacDonald made clear every Scottish council had an opportunity to secure funds for housing debt repayment.

'I can confirm that the government will be prepared to provide funding to tackle the outstanding debt problem in those cases where stock transfer proposals represent good value for money and are selected to proceed,' he wrote.

For a council scheme to win approval, in competition with others, it would have to get the best possible receipt which would then be used to repay part of the debt.

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