Highland Council approves SHIP and commits to capital housing program

Affordable housing investment proposals between 2022-2027 and the planned investment program to 2027 have been approved by the Highland Council Housing and Real Estate Committee.

The main objective of the Highland Council’s Strategic Housing Investment Plan (SHIP) is to define how investments in affordable housing will be directed over the five-year period 2022/23 to 2026/27, in order to achieve the priorities that have been identified. in the council’s local housing strategy (LHS).

Approved in December 2017, the main objectives of the LHS are:

  • Increasing the supply of housing in Highland so that we have enough housing in the right places to meet housing needs
  • That people be supported to live independently for as long as possible in their own homes and communities
  • To prevent and respond to homelessness and make sure people have the right help to let them make decisions about their housing options
  • Improve the quality and condition of the building stock and minimize fuel poverty.

SHIP will contribute to the National Affordable Housing Program (AHSP), helping to deliver on the Scottish Government’s commitment to deliver at least 50,000 new affordable homes during this Parliament, as well as extend delivery to- beyond this period.

A strategic housing investment program for 2021-2026 was approved on November 4, 2020 by the Committee on the Economy and Infrastructures. It has been prepared on the basis that it will be possible to approve at least 500 units each year, of which 70% will be for affordable rent and 30% for intermediate affordable housing (for example, low cost home ownership or average market rent), in accordance with the general objectives of the Scottish Government. Details of local programs are communicated to regional committees.

The number of tender approvals to date for 2021/22 is 247 and the number of completions is 237. It is expected that there will be a total of 500 tender approvals. , 450 construction starts and 800 completions by March 2022. The relatively high number of completions results from delayed completions due to the effects of Covid 19.

Housing and Property Committee Chair Cllr Laurie Fraser said, “Housing is essential to the growth of Highland’s economy and the sustainability of its communities.

“There are a large number of households in Highland who are in ‘housing need’ while at the same time there continues to be substantial pressure on the supply of affordable housing in Highland. “

Meanwhile, the Highland Council has said it remains committed to implementing its agreed upon housing income account capital program despite continued pressures resulting from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Progress on the main Housing Revenue Account (HRA) program continues to be affected by Covid-19 restrictions which have suspended all capital work in social housing until it is lifted in April this year.

The construction industry, both in Highland and nationally, is experiencing labor and material shortages and industry experts predict little improvement until at least early this year next.

Besides the increase in material costs, the productivity of factories and factories is also reduced, the shortage of truck drivers, delays in ports and fluctuations in construction demand.

Cllr Laurie Fraser said: “These issues will cause continued delays, but Highland Council is determined to continue with its agenda and contract discussions are underway to expedite work where possible.

“In particular, efforts are being made to prioritize certain works, such as heating replacements and adaptations, and to minimize delays. “

It is expected that the Future mainstream HRA capital program will provide a minimum of 120 new completions during the current fiscal year, plus 32 one-time individual purchases.

At this week’s Housing and Property Committee meeting, members approved HRA’s overall investment budget of £ 88.599million for 2022-2027.

The HRA Mainstream Capital program will see a phased investment to enable project management staff to work with the construction industry to package projects within a reasonable time frame and achieve value for money.

Members endorsed the recommendation that the 2022/23 program should focus on carrying out the most essential capital works, such as one-off installations such as urgent heater replacements as identified by maintenance crews. local.

They also agreed that the adaptation program would remain the same throughout the 5 years of the plan, rather than varying from year to year to ensure that all work assessed by occupational therapy progresses as quickly as possible. .

Discussions on the proposed work and locations will be scheduled with local members in the coming weeks ahead of local committee approval of local programs in early 2022.