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PRIVATE SECTOR HOUSING GRANTS

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Thousands of homeowners and tenants in private rented accommodation will benefit from essential improvements and re...
Thousands of homeowners and tenants in private rented accommodation will benefit from essential improvements and repairs, as a result of additional funding for local authorities.

Following the recommendations of the Housing Improvement Task Force, funding for Private Sector Housing Grants paid to local authorities will total over£140m in the next two years, an increase of over 40 per cent since last year.

This will allow local authorities to plan and deliver funding for property improvements benefiting many families in poor living conditions.

Deputy communities minister Mary Mulligan said:

'Owners must have the primary responsibility for keeping their properties in good condition. However some households, with limited resources or who are vulnerable in other ways, need help and support.

'This funding will enable local authorities to ensure that, at the very minimum, houses are above the tolerable standard and encourage home owners and private landlords to maintain their properties. This, along with initiatives such as the Tenements Bill and the Scottish Housing Quality Standard, will help to improve the quality of privately-owned housing across the length and breadth of the country.'

Housing spokesman for the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, Douglas Reid, added:

'Local authorities throughout Scotland welcome this announcement of a significant increase in the funds available to invest in the nation's privately-owned housing stock. The Executive has recognised the importance of investing in the owner-occupied sector, which is now the main form of tenure across Scotland. This funding will enable local authorities to continue and develop their investment programmes which will help improve living conditions and ease financial hardship for many owners, particularly the elderly and disabled.'

Local authorities have bid for additional funding for projects that meet property improvement criteria and show innovation in tackling the problem of sub-standard housing. These bids have been assessed by Communities Scotland and matched against published criteria. The additional funding of£42m has been made available over and above grant funding announced late last year.

Examples of the initiatives that will see improvements made include:

Edinburgh

The City has taken an innovative approach to tackling private sector housing problems. The Edinburgh Stair Project, a factoring service available to homeowners in tenements, and a pilot sinking fund will improve conditions. A project to develop an advice and information service for homeowners is also receiving support.

Glasgow

The single largest awards to the council in 2004/05 and 2005/06 relate to improvements in sub-tolerable houses in Housing Action Areas. The programme will be carried in partnership with community-based housing associations and will target properties where mainly low-income families live. Housing Action Areas contain a higher than average concentration of black and minorityethnic households so investment in these areas also supports equalities issues.

The council will also receive funding of£250,000 in 2004/05 to carry out a survey of private sector housing in Glasgow to inform future policy on private sector housing.

The£21.8m Private Sector Housing Grant for the city over the next two years is additional to£15m for owner-occupier properties as part of the Glasgow Housing Association's plans for the city.

Dundee

As well as supporting existing initiatives the council is developing new policies such as a handyman/volunteer service within the Care and Repair Scheme. There are also plans to gain more information on properties below the Tolerable Standard.

Aberdeen

Funding will be used to tackle repair problems in the city's older properties and develop a strategy to work with landlords and property owners. The Care and Repair Service for the vulnerable will be bolstered with the funding of its 'Man in a Van' sche me.

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