A senior Argyll and Bute councillor has written to housing and communities minister Alex Neil MSP to raise his ‘grave concerns’ over the delays in payment of grant for an island progressive care centre project.
Councillor Robin Currie, spokesperson for rural and island affairs, housing and Gaelic, said the proposed delay in the provision of Housing Association Grant (HAG) to West Highland Housing Association in relation to the Mull Progressive Care Centre (PCC) exposed the association and all other partners to ‘unacceptable levels of risk’.
He added that delays in providing the grant more generally would have a detrimental effect on the wider housing development programme across Argyl l and Bute, and asked the minister for his assurance that funding previously committed to projects would be handed over within the timescales previously indicated to the council’s housing association partners.
Councillor Currie reiterated the fact that the Mull PCC is a major multi agency development which has been the subject of protracted negotiations for over 10 years between NHS Highland, Argyll and Bute Council, the Scottish Government and the local community.
“The project seemed to be in jeopardy late last year when NHS Highland proposed withdrawing their capital contribution and now, after a last minute reprieve by the deputy First Minister, the viability of the project is once again at risk due to uncertainty about the commitment from the Housing Investment Division,” he added.
“The proposed delays in the provision of HAG for up to a five year period exposes the housing association and all other partners to unacceptable levels of risk.
“In the longer term this development is crucial to the delivery of modern health, housing and social care services fit for the 21st century on the island. In the short term it is providing employment in the construction industry and injecting much need investment into the local economy.
“More generally, the government’s decision to delay the payment of funding, which has previously been approved, is creating severe difficulty for all the housing associations in Argyll and Bute as it puts them in the position where they have to consider significant amounts of additional borrowing to honour their contractual agreements.”
Councillor Currie has asked the minister for his assurance that previous commitments will be honoured and that the Scottish Government will not impose any further delays which will impede the area’s housing development.