I have asked Angiolina Foster, Chief Executive of Communities Scotland to respond. Her response is as follows:
Local investment priorities are agreed jointly by Scottish Borders Council (as the strategic housing authority) and Communities Scotland. These investment priorities are based on the local housing strategy and evidence of housing need that is compiled locally.
Both organisations are currently working to develop a longer term three year indicative investment programme for the Scottish Borders.
Communities Scotland and Scottish Borders Council have also been working with a local registered social landlord to establish a land-bank strategy, taking into consideration land that may be released once the new local plan has been approved. This will allow longer term planned investment activity.
Over the 18 month period between January 2007 and June 2008, affordable housing developments are either on site, or are scheduled to go on site in Ancrum, Cardrona, Duns, Eyemouth, Galashiels, Hawick, Innerleithen, Jedburgh, Kelso, Melrose, Tweedbank, Selkirk, Sprouston, Stow and West Linton. These site starts will provide a minimum of 184 affordable homes for rent with a further 38 being made available through Communities Scotland’s "Homestake" shared equity scheme.
Homestake is aimed at helping people on low incomes who wish to become homeowners but whose financial resources are insufficient to meet their needs because of local housing market prices. Further details on Homestake are available at:
Additionally, last year Communities Scotland increased its allocation by 100% for Rural Home Ownership Grants (RHOGs). RHOGs aim to sustain rural communities by making it easier for local people on lower incomes to own their own homes. Communities Scotland will make eight grants available for successful applicants in 2007-08 and will consider increasing this should the allocation be met with appropriate demand.
In 2007-08 Communities Scotland has allocated a record £7.2 million investment in the Scottish Borders, an increase of over 9% compared with the 2006-07 allocation and an increase of nearly 50% on the allocation to the Scottish Borders in April 2005.