£5m boost announced for affordable housing in Borders

Scottish Borders Council leader David Parker, Mid Berwickshire councillor Frances Renton and Nile Istephan, chief executive of Eildon Housing Association, at the former Earlston High School site, one of several locations in the region in line to host social housing developments.
Scottish Borders Council leader David Parker, Mid Berwickshire councillor Frances Renton and Nile Istephan, chief executive of Eildon Housing Association, at the former Earlston High School site, one of several locations in the region in line to host social housing developments.

Plans to provide more affordable housing in the Borders have been given a £5m boost.

The Scottish Government has handed that windfall to Eildon Housing Association by issuing charitable bonds overseen by Allia, a Cambridgeshire-based social investment charity.

It takes the amount of funding given to the Selkirk-based association via bonds to £15m over thelast two years.

It plans to spend its latest handout on building social housing in Selkirk, Galashiels, Jedburgh, Newtown and Earlston to help Scottish Borders Council meet its target of providing almost 240 such homes a year.

Association chief executive Nile Istephan said: “We are delighted to help the Scottish Government meet its ambitious housing targets by planning record-breaking growth of new affordable housing in the Scottish Borders.

“The additional £5m we have secured through the Allia charitable bonds route is in addition to the £10m we secured through the same route last year.

“This flexible and affordable source of finance will assist us in delivering high-quality, new, affordable homes in a range of towns and villages across the Scottish Borders, including in Selkirk, Galashiels, Jedburgh, Newtown and Earlston.”

Announcing the extra cash for the Borders during a visit to Fife last Thursday, Scottish Government housing minister Kevin Stewart said: “I’m sure this will be very welcome news for people in the Borders.

“The latest round of funding means that we have now invested a total of £70m in nine charitable bonds, providing an innovative source of finance for housing associations to support the development of 935 homes for social and mid-market rent across the country.

“We have committed to deliver 50,000 new affordable homes during the term of this parliament, and this is yet another important step towards this target.”

Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale MSP Christine Graham has welcomed the extra investment, saying: “This is welcome news indeed for housing in the Borders.

“Since the Tories introduced the right to buy without making any provision to replace social rented houses, our local housing stock has been low, and demand far outstrips supply.

“Building more houses is the only solution to that problem, and the Scottish Government is making huge progress on this.

“This £5m will help to that end in the same way that the £10m received in the same way last year is already having a huge positive impact.”

Phil Caroe, director of Social finance at Allia, added: “Allia is proud to have worked in partnership with Scottish Government to support the creation of over 900 affordable new homes across Scotland.

“The charitable bonds programme has been a great success story of using finance for social good, and we’re pleased to see that the Government’s leading example is now attracting interest from other parts of the UK.”