We are making a decisive change in our support for new housing developments by using Government funding to lever in maximum investment from other sources and thereby maximising construction. Housing association bids to the new innovation and investment fund will be assessed against a benchmark of a £40,000 subsidy per unit, but we have also made it clear that we retain the flexibility to consider higher subsidies where, for example, projects require additional support to reflect the challenges in some remote and rural locations.
The minister has partly answered my supplementary, but is he aware that the reduction in the affordable housing grant has made it very difficult for housing associations and other organisations to consider building houses in the most fragile rural areas in the Highlands and Islands region? These are often the most remote communities where, although building costs are the highest, sustainability can be assured by the construction of a very small number of houses.
I am aware that the reduced subsidy for affordable housing will increase the challenges of building in our more remote rural communities. To assist such development, we have made it clear that, in assessing submissions to the innovation and investment fund for projects in more remote and rural communities, we will retain flexibility in considering the levels of subsidy. I should tell the member that the assessment process has only started and that announcements on the bids will be made in the autumn but, nevertheless, I am happy to discuss the matter further with him if he so wishes.
Does the minister recognise that in certain urban communities the concept of the balanced community is also very fragile? In East Kilbride, for example, that manifests itself in a critical lack of social rented housing. Will the minister commit to meeting me and appropriate representatives from East Kilbride soon to discuss this increasingly concerning situation with a view to considering the kind of viable solutions that he has just outlined in some measure in his response to Mr MacKenzie?
Of course, I am unable to wish away these particular budget pressures. However, I am aware of the challenges facing different communities and am more than happy to meet the member to discuss the matter.