Open Market Shared Equity Scheme

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 13 June 2013.

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Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson Conservative

6. To ask the Scottish Government what steps it is taking to promote the uptake of the open market shared equity scheme in rural areas. (S4O-02257)

Photo of Margaret Burgess Margaret Burgess Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government has procured the services of five registered social landlords to administer the open market shared equity scheme throughout Scotland. The scheme is being promoted to all first-time buyers through local authorities, advice agencies, local financial advisers and estate agents. Some registered social landlords plan national newspaper advertising in the summer, and other media advertising is planned for the autumn.

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson Conservative

I am grateful for that response, but I am sorry to say that the scheme does not appear to be working—at least not in my constituency. Is the minister aware that, since 2009, there have been just 79 shared equity purchases in Dumfries and Galloway, of which 62 were in Dumfries town, but only five were in Galloway and only two were in communities of fewer than 8,000 people? Does she agree that there is not enough flexibility in establishing the scheme’s threshold prices, that the scheme is not being promoted enough—at least not throughout my region—and that it is not working as it should? Will she look into what improvements could be made to the scheme to ensure that my rural constituents are given an equal opportunity to get a foot on the housing ladder?

Photo of Margaret Burgess Margaret Burgess Scottish National Party

We are aware of the challenges that relate to the delivery of affordable housing in rural areas and island communities, where small numbers can make a difference. Although a number of other Government initiatives are specifically for rural areas, we will continue to look at the matter. I am more than willing to discuss in more detail the open market shared equity scheme with the member, but we think that the 10 per cent uplift in the threshold has taken account of rural areas.