The Capital’s housing convener has hit back at claims the council is lagging behind its target to build 20,000 affordable homes – while insisting almost a quarter will be adaptable for disabled residents.
The SNP-Labour administration has committed to building 20,000 affordable homes in the city over the space of a decade. Last week, Conservative Lothians MSP Miles Briggs claimed the council was behind schedule with 1,152 complete in 2018/19. But statistics in the authority’s strategic housing investment plan (SHIP), show that the council exceeded its target of completing 1,000 new affordable homes last year as part of the 20,000 goal.
There are currently 1,000 new affordable homes under construction by the council – along with an additional 1,300 by social housing landlords. Discussions are also taking place which could see developers required to provide more than the current 25 per cent of properties as affordable homes.
Housing and economy convener, Cllr Kate Campbell, said: “Our delivery on affordable housing has been incredibly strong – actually proven by the allocation of an additional £12 million of grant funding from the Scottish Government.
“This is money that other local authorities hadn’t managed to spend, representing 200 additional homes.
“Opposition politicians, from the Conservatives in particular, keep trying to claim that we aren’t delivering. Aside from the hypocrisy of a party with absolutely appalling policies and track record on affordable housing making these wild assertions, it’s just not born out by the figures.
“We were ten per cent over target last year on homes completed, we have 2,300 affordable homes actually being built right now, and a further 3,000 in design and development. We invested a record £53m in grant funding last year and we’re building the types of homes our city needs.”
A total of 4,500 of the council’s affordable homes to be built over the next ten years will be adaptable properties that will support health and social care needs. Almost ten per cent of the homes approved in the first two years of the council’s strategy are specifically designed for older people and those with complex needs.
These initial adapted homes have include amenity and supported housing, fully wheelchair accessible homes and housing for veterans.
The SHIP includes grant funding of £500,000 annually for registered social landlords (RSLs) to carry out adaptations to homes to enable people to remain in their own homes and to live independently.
Cllr Campbell said: “Last year we increased our commitment to accessible homes increasing the number that will be built over this ten year period from 3,000 to 4,500.
“And we’re reviewing the 25 per cent affordable housing policy as part of the City Plan – the document that forms the basis of all planning decisions and is being renewed.”
She added: “Affordable homes are an absolute priority for the city, and we know the land that comes to housing associations through this policy plays an incredibly important role in helping them to deliver social housing.
“A stark contrast to the Conservative manifesto for the council elections. They said they’d reduce or remove this policy – leaving housing associations without the land they desperately need. This would have been disastrous and drastically reduced the number of social and affordable homes getting built.
“So I would advise the Conservatives to take a look at their own policies before trying to criticise ours – especially when it is so clear that we are delivering the homes the city needs.”