ARGYLL and Bute Council has agreed an investment of almost £18m which will open up access to suitable affordable housing in the area.
Councillors met on Thursday 23 August and considered six initiatives aimed at tackling the challenges surrounding housing.
Using the Strategic Housing Fund and council reserves, the proposals will improve access to affordable housing as well as maintaining high standards for new affordable developments in Argyll and Bute.
The initiatives include a Local Authority Mortgage Scheme (LAMS) which would provide an indemnity for house buyers who require 95 per cent loans, in cases where they can afford monthly payments but not a large deposit.
The council has also developed an Empty Homes Strategy, aiming to bring back into use ten unused properties per year. This would see, for example, refurbishment grants or loans provided to owners in exchange for the improved property being leased to a Registered Social Landlord (RSL) for a minimum of ten years.
A range of funding possibilities including another phase of Rural Housing Development Fund Grants, front funding and long term loans for RSLs, further demonstrate the council’s commitment to ensuring an affordable housing development programme across Argyll and Bute.
The initiatives will be funded using £8.35m from the Strategic Housing Fund along with loan funding of up to £9.5m from council reserves.
Lead councillor for housing, George Freeman, said: “The proposals that have been agreed today will allow Argyll and Bute Council, along with our housing association partners, to continue to address the varied housing needs of many people across Argyll and Bute.
“This package of measures helps to demonstrate the high priority that we attach to housing within Argyll and Bute. They will also help local businesses and will aid the local economy across the council area. As Lead Councillor for Housing, I look forward to seeing the number of new build affordable houses increase and the number of empty homes reduce. I also look forward to seeing more people being able to access mortgages who, without the council’s help, would continue to struggle to get in to the housing market.”
The Strategic Housing Fund obtains income of around £1.8m per year from council tax on second homes. Funds accrued in this way can be used for new build, land acquisition and prudential borrowing for affordable housing, and to bring empty properties back into affordable housing use.
There are currently 581 empty homes in the Argyll and Bute area.