How is Scotland Providing Affordable Housing for Key Workers?
Up to £25 million is being made available to help councils to identify affordable homes for key workers in rural communities across Scotland. Housing Industry Leaders looks at why this is crucial to futureproofing the economy.

The five-year initiative, set out in the Scottish Government’s priorities for the next three years, will enable local authorities and registered social landlords to acquire or lease properties which can be used to provide homes to meet the needs of their communities.

Affordable housing is key to retaining a skilled workforce

It will see £25 million be made available from the Affordable Housing Supply Programme from 2023-28. This will work to help make the best use of underused or empty properties by making them available for key workers and others in need.

Housing Minister Paul McLennan explained that affordable housing is needed to attract people to certain areas: “Opportunity, equity and community are vital to everyone no matter wherever they live, and we recognise that a tailored approach is needed for our rural areas.”

Good quality affordable housing is essential to attract and retain people in rural communities, particularly in areas where key workers are needed.

The need to attract key workers, such as those working in the public sector and emergency services, to these areas where they are needed the most is one of the main reasons why the £25 million is being made available in a dedicated fund.

He continued to express that this comes hand-in-hand with recent Scottish Government policy: “Delivering affordable homes is a priority for this government. We have committed to delivering 110,000 affordable homes across Scotland by 2032 – with at least 10 per cent in remote, rural and island areas.

“Our upcoming delivery plan will set out actions to support our rural and island communities, including areas such as transport, repopulation and economic development.”

“Without the provision of more housing, we risk jeopardising attracting and retaining skilled workers across the region.” Gail Matheson, CEO at Highland Housing Alliance

The initiative is bridging the gap between the demand and supply of housing

Scotland is focusing on making affordable homes a key focus, with £3.5 billion in funding being made available in this Parliamentary term towards the delivery of affordable homes in communities across Scotland.

This includes the continued commitment of support of up to £30 million towards a Rural and Island Housing Fund for communities and organisations not able to access traditional affordable housing funding.

Tackling empty homes is another focus for the Scottish Government, and this pilot will build upon the work of the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership, which has helped bring more than 8,000 homes into use as warm, safe, and secure housing.

Highlighting the importance of more housing, Gail Matheson, CEO at Highland Housing Alliance, said: “Important to futureproofing and strengthening the Highland economy is the availability of high-quality and well-priced homes for local workforces.”

Without the provision of more housing, we risk jeopardising attracting and retaining skilled

Continuing, she highlighted that Highland Housing Alliance (HHA) is happy to welcome the allocation of a dedicated budget for suitable properties in rural areas to be used for those who are in need of affordable housing.

She said: Working with Cairngorms Partnership, HHA has helped to provide homes available at mid-market rent in Aviemore and Kincraig specifically for local workers. This is proving to be a huge success with further communities earmarked for development as part of the scheme, and we welcome more incentives that mirror its ethos and bridge the gap between demand and supply of affordable housing.”

Initiatives like this one are crucial to tackling the housing crisis, ensuring that communities are supported the best that they can be and futureproofing the economy.