16 December 04
Council Welcomes Membership Of Community Ownership
Acceptance into the Scottish Executive's Community
Ownership Programme has been welcomed by The Highland Council, whose
membership promises funding of an extra £50 million over the next five
years to deliver an extra 1,000 affordable houses for rent and low cost
home ownership. In addition the Council's current
housing debt of £175million (one of the highest debt levels in Scotland)
will be written off if tenants vote in favour of transfer. Currently 47
pence of every pound of rent collected is used to pay off historic debt.
This will allow a significant increase in the proportion of rent which can
be spend on house maintenance and investment. Membership will require the Council to
develop proposals for the transfer of ownership and management of its
stock of 15,500 Council houses to a new Highland landlord. Bill
Fernie councillor for Wick West and Caithness area chairman of Housing and
Social Work welcomed the announcement as a shot in the arm for Highland.
Bill said: "This is one of the most significant moves toward addressing
the housing shortage for many years and it will have an impact for those
looking for homes and in job creation as the money begins to be spent.
In my view the removal of the housing debt from Highland will prove to be
a significant factor in boosting not just housing but future investment in
the area as more people will be able to find homes here."
New housing heads for the Highlands
- Scot Exec
Investment of £200 million will provide 1,000 affordable
homes in the Highlands.
6 December 04
ARE YOU COVERED?
The Highland Council is now able to provide a
low cost home contents insurance scheme for all council tenants. The
Tenants Insurance Scheme has been developed by the Council, in partnership
with Jardine Lloyd Thompson Public Sector Risks, to provide peace of mind
from as little as 7p per day.
The cover is provided on a ‘new for old basis’ with no item age limit and
no excess. Cover also provides protection against fire, theft and water
damage as well as including useful extensions in cover for tenants in
respect of tenants liability and tenants improvements.
Ailsa Mackay Insurance & Risk Manager with The
Highland Council said: "Many of our tenants do not realise that the
Council does not automatically insure their possessions. Tenants who are
uninsured often cannot afford to replace their belongings if they are
damaged or stolen. Our previous scheme only offered this service for
tenants in one area but now this new scheme gives affordable cover and
therefore peace of mind for all of our tenants across the Highlands."
Highland Council will be sending out letters to tenants with a leaflet
detailing the insurance scheme. Any tenants who requiring further
information can contact their Local Service Point or telephone the council
on 01463 702401/2417
19 July 04
DISCUSSION FORUM OPENS ON MAJOR HOUSING
Tenants Asked For Their Views On Community
The Highland Council has opened a
discussion forum on its website
www.highland.gov.uk to give
council house tenants and other interested
members of the public the opportunity to
comment on the proposal being examined by
the Council to join the Scottish Executive’s
Community Ownership Programme. The forum
will remain active until the Council meets
on 28 October this year when it will
formally decide the way forward. The forum
will supplement the information contained in
a newsletter that has been delivered to the
homes of all 15,000 tenants in the Highlands
outlining the issues involved in joining the
Programme and the possible transfer of the
council house stock to a not-for-profit
10 February 04
Voluntary Groups Share In £2.4 million
For Rent Deposit Schemes
New services, to help people who find it difficult to
scrape together the initial deposit to rent a home, will be running across
Scotland by the end of the year. Funding for a new development worker to
drive forward work on improving access to private rented accommodation was
announced as part of a £2.4 million funding package for the voluntary
sector. Rent deposit or guarantee schemes
support people who do not have enough money saved to pay the deposit for a
private rented house or flat.
10 January 04
Improving Scotland’s homes - Rob Gibson MSP
– debate Scottish Parliament 8.1.04 RG
The speedy improvement of Scotland’s homes
can have a major impact on the confidence of Scots in the work of this
Parliament and of the effectiveness of the Government that has made the
current proposals under debate today.
I can say bluntly that in my part of Scotland
affordable, warm and available housing can make the difference between
families and single persons staying to contribute to community life and
our local economy or emigrating. The population loss is a great concern
for the viability of life in many towns as well as more scattered
So progress has to be measured regularly and
carefully in order to sweep away constraints on the improvement and
provision of 21st century homes.
While 70% of Scots are now owner-occupiers,
and owner occupancy is the aspiration of the majority, we must make sure
that the development of mixed tenure and varying types and densities of
housing are enabled by the Government’s plans.
Having recently participated in the Local
Structure Plan process in Easter Ross it is clear to me that encouraging
owners to undertake regular maintenance of their homes is one critical
element. This is especially so as we have an aging population structure
throughout the country. Older people have not the where-with-all to
negotiate the rapids of the house improvement process. The Government
needs to make this easier for them by cutting red tape and offering
through Local Authorities the kind of one-stop-shop that could help reduce
bewilderment and fear of the process.
Many of the available materials in the
seventies and eighties were of poorer quality that those used to build and
maintain council housing stock. Any canvasser in elections can still see
the evidence. So recommendations of the Housing Improvement Task Force are
most welcome on responsibilities for the upkeep of houses.
Looking at the guidelines for improvements,
extensions and new build there is an urgent need for national guidelines
to positively encourage the use of local materials, high insulation
factors and new designs fit for the 21st century.
Too often planners reject innovation. As the
Development Plan Policy guidelines issues by Highland Council state in the
issue of October 2003
‘design, siting and material finishes must
respect the traditional vernacular architecture and adhere to the
objectives of the national guidelines.’
The Pan 67 advice on Housing Quality
concentrates of town scenarios, naturally. However with Scandinavian style
houses built to meet public housing needs in Shetland we could do with a
Viking invasion of such advanced design onto the mainland. And the
Minister must ensure that bodies like SNH cannot veto housing developments
in sensitive areas on grounds of architecture inappropriate in sensitive
landscapes. How are we ever to make progress to have population increase
in the north far less retain bright young innovative designers who want to
use plentiful wood from our forests as the building materials of
sustainable and high insulation choice.
The availability of land for creating modern
settlements and appropriate housing for families, the disabled, single
parents, pensioners is a major equal opportunities issue. If you add
access to wholesome water supply, which is the second largest category in
the BTS surveys we have to ask the Minister to ensure that Scottish Water
and SEPA are brought fully on board the drive to modernise housing stock.
At present in many rural areas these agencies hold a veto on any new house
building over solutions to the obvious needs to minimise costs both to
supply wholesome water and to agree the best means to remove and treat
The final point links with my remarks about
Scandinavian levels of insulation, the biggest group of homes in the BTS
survey have poor thermal insulation. Caithness area of Highland Council is
re-cladding the stone council houses built in the 1920s to include cavity
walls and include roof insulation. That is last century’s standards, not
the Council’s fault. The lead from this Government has to raise the
quality levels to make our homes in the north the envy of the country.
That’s why a timetable and necessary resources called for in the SNP
amendment should be welcomed by the Minister and are expected by the
29 July 03
Latest Trends In Scottish Housing
4 July 03
Women's Aid - New Flats To Be Built In Wick
COUNCIL HIGHLIGHTS THE NEED FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING TO COMBAT HOMELESSNESS
Without a significant increase in quality affordable social rented
housing to provide permanent, temporary and emergency