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14/09/2021

Grants Critical To Delivering Quality Affordable Housing - SFHA

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Appropriate levels of grant are critical to delivering good quality affordable housing to a high standard, at affordable rent and in the locations in which it is needed.

This is the view of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) and Glasgow and West of Scotland Forum of Housing Associations (GWSF) in response to the publication of the report on the work of the 2021 Affordable Housing Investment Benchmarks Working Group.

Aaron Hill, SFHA Director of Policy and Membership, and David Bookbinder, GWSF Director, said: "Both SFHA and GWSF were pleased to take part in the 2021 Affordable Housing Investment Benchmarks Working Group. Appropriate levels of grant are critical to delivering good quality affordable housing to a high standard, at affordable rent and in the locations in which it is needed.

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"This has been an important piece of work which has led to some important clarifications. However, there are some outstanding areas which require further consideration. We welcome the Scottish Government's renewed emphasis that the role of benchmarks is to determine whether a project needs to be subject to detailed appraisal, and that they are not grant rates or grant ceilings and have no role in shaping expectations of grant funding levels for any particular project. We also welcome the commitment to review the benchmarks annually.

"Our key concern is that the benchmark levels are unlikely to see the Scottish Government achieve its desired position for the majority of projects to be at, or below, benchmark and avoid detailed appraisal. We believe that this is likely to prove challenging to the pace of the overall programme and could undermine the ambition to deliver 110,000 homes over the next 10 years. The growing evidence of increasing costs as a result of Brexit and Covid-related supply chain problems could further exacerbate this and increase the likelihood of projects exceeding benchmark levels.

"We remain committed to representing the interests of our members on this matter, and to working together wherever possible to deliver high-quality, affordable social housing."

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