‘Highest ever’ affordable homes budget after Covid impact

Glasgow councillors will be asked to approve a list of new projects when they meet on Thursday.

‘Highest ever’ affordable homes budget after Covid impact iStock

Glasgow is set to see more money than ever before spent on affordable housing in the city, as it looks to recover ground lost during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The city had been allocated £110m for 2020/21 but that figure had to be revised due to the pandemic’s impact on the construction industry.

Site closures, furloughed workers and restrictions, such as social distancing, hit the housing programme, while material shortages and self-isolation periods also caused problems.

Cllr Kenny McLean, the city convener for neighbourhoods, housing and public realm, admitted 2020/21 had been “extremely challenging”.

However, it is now hoped a five-year £538m budget – the council’s highest ever – will help the city to recover.

Included in the budget is a record £120m for affordable housing in 2021/22 and councillors will be asked to approve a list of new projects when they meet on Thursday.

A council spokesman said the funding for 2021 to 2026 will “help the housebuilding sector to recover from the pandemic”.

“It will provide certainty over future budgets which will help with planning the affordable housing supply programme in Glasgow.”

The £110m allocated for 2020/21 had been expected to deliver 1439 completed homes. It was reduced to £80m in August last year, with a target of 708 completions.

However, only 397 units could be finished due to the “difficult conditions” and 311 slipped into this financial year.

The council, through social landlords, did exceed its targets for approved schemes and site starts and an extra £5m was requested from the Scottish Government, taking spending for the year to £85m.

Work started on 1144 homes and approval was received for 399.

A council spokesman said the £25m difference between the original £110m allocation and the final spend had not been handed back as the council “only draws it down when we have spent it”.

He said the Scottish Government had revised the allocation as it was “recognised that we could not achieve that level of expenditure when sites had been shut for three months”.

“In the end, we actually had to ask the Scottish Government for an additional £5m as we were able to spend more than anticipated,” he added.

In a report to Thursday’s committee meeting, councillor McLean said “uncertainty” has continued this year, which has been “compounded by the UK leaving the European Union”.

He added there is “rising construction price inflation, labour shortages and a lack of supply for some construction materials”.

The £120m allocation for this year is the “highest amount the council has ever received”. It has been boosted by one-off Covid recovery funding from the UK Government.

Targets for the current year include 1443 completed homes and 1098 site starts.

Previously approved projects include 175 homes for social rent from Queens Cross Housing Association at Hamiltonhill and 123 for mid-market rent from the Wheatley Group as part of the Calton Village development.

New projects could see 756 homes, with 91 from Govan Housing Association at Water Row and 90 from the West of Scotland Housing Association at Dundashill.

By local democracy reporter Drew Sandelands

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