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SCOTTISH HOUSING MINISTER ANNOUNCES£1.8M BOOST FOR HOUSING PARTNERSHIPS

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The government's flagship initiative to give tenants more say in housing matters received a£1.8m boost. ...
The government's flagship initiative to give tenants more say in housing matters received a£1.8m boost.

Announcing successful council bids for remaining New Housing Partnership funding for this year, Scottish housing minister Calum MacDonald said:

'The government's housing policies in Scotland are guided by the

principles of partnership between agencies and the empowerment of tenants and local communities in housing investment decisions.

'This latest round of New Housing Partnership bids demonstrates

continuing progress in developing partnerships that are relevant to local housing needs, and tackles head-on decades of under-investment in Scottish housing in a way that will create new jobs.

'The£1.8m awarded today confirms the government's commitment to

make housing one of our key priority areas. In all,£35m has gone

towards the initiative this year, and almost£300m will be made

available over the next three years, but through the NHPs we intend to

lever in at least double that through private investment.'

'The advisory group set up to assess the bids has recommended support for a wide range of proposals. Glasgow City Council and Dundee City

Council will be embarking on feasibility work to investigate potential

housing transfer. This is a real opportunity to boost investment in

Glasgow's housing while boosting also the power of local communities. The government is keen to work with Glasgow to achieve this.

'We have stressed to the council the importance which we attach to

community ownership, the need to examine the full range of options to

maximise value for money and above all, the need to involve tenants fully in the process, as well as the local housing associations active in the same neighbourhoods. The feasibility study is essential to enable the council, tenants, funders and the wider housing community to reach a view in the best way forward for housing in Glasgow.

'The feasibility work will address all these key issues. It will also

look at rents and provide critical information on the condition of the

housing stock. I am particularly pleased that the council will invite

representatives of housing associations in Glasgow to sit on the

steering committee of the project, as well as participating in the actual project team.

'The study will enable the issues to be investigated independently

and thoroughly and provide a guarantee of protection to tenants in a debate which has, at times, descended into irresponsible scaremongering. I have asked the council to ensure that

their timescale allows tenants to be involved and fully informed, and of course, no transfer will take place unless a majority of tenants vote for it.'

A total of nine councils will receive funding from this package. The

distribution is as follows:

Aberdeenshire - #65,000, Comhaiirle nan Eilean

Siar - #56,000, Dundee City - #145,000, East

Dunbartonshire - #18,500, Glasgow City -

#1,065,000, Highland - #392,880, Moray -

#20,000, West Dunbartonshire - #15,000, West

Lothian - #30,000.

NOTES

1. #35m has been made available for New Housing Partnerships in 1998-99. #33 of this was awarded to 23 councils in May 1998. In late August, councils were invited to submit bids for a share of the #2m remaining to be allocated. #1.8m has been allocated today and the balance will be carried forward.

2. An advisory group was set up to assess bids. This was chaired by The Scottish Office and included representatives from COSLA, Scottish Homes, the Chartered Institute of Housing in Scotland and the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations. The minister accepted their view that proposals from nine councils should be funded.

3. Bids had to be clearly consistent with three key criteria: collaboration between councils, Scottish homes and other parties such as housing associations, working within an agreed framework which takes account of the views of tenants; consistency with the local housing strategy; and attraction of private sector finance to compliment and maximise the impact of public investment in housing.

4. The next phase of New Housing Partnerships wa announced in August when it was confirmed that an additional #278 was being made available over the three years from 1999-2002. Councils were advised that the government intends to give priority to funding well founded proposals for housing transfer which promote community empowerment and bring in private finance. Councils have been invited to submit bids for funding under this next phase by 15 December 1998.

5. A report listing the successful projects and summarising the

consideration of the bids is available from Julie Grant on 0131 244 2701.

# = pounds sterling

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