THE delivery of new affordable housing in the Borders will be speeded up thanks to a £1.27 million funding boost.
The money comes on top of the housing budget already awarded to the council by the Scottish Government.
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed the funding allocation on Tuesday.
It is part of a total package across Scotland of an extra £40 million for housing, which is expected to deliver around 1,000 homes, mainly for social rent.
The Government also hopes that the resultant house building will support up to 700 jobs in construction and related sectors over the next two years. Ms Sturgeon said: “This funding is good news for the Scottish Borders. Across Scotland it will deliver up to 1,000 affordable homes that meet people’s needs, a central focus of our housing polices and a principle that underpins everything we do.”
A council spokesperson said: “The additional £1.272m allocated to the Scottish Borders will help the council and its partners (registered social landlords) to develop much needed additional affordable housing sooner than had been originally expected.
“This additional funding brings the total government housing supply grant to £5.5m, and together with the council’s contribution of £1.2m, brings a total grant subsidy of £6.7m for affordable homes over the next three years for the Borders.”
The news of the funding came less than a week after national property group Orchard and Shipman teamed up with charitable organisation Carr Gomm to win a council tender to provide 16 supported accommodation units in Galashiels.
The homes will enable people with mental health problems and learning difficulties to live independently.
The partnership between Orchard and Shipman and Carr Gomm is the first of its kind in Scotland. The five year contract will see the partners provide accommodation and support for those ready to live within their own home and community.
Angela McLachlan, director for Orchard and Shipman Scotland, said: “Securing this contract with Scottish Borders Council is a significant achievement for us, not just in terms of business progression, but the opportunity it provides to link up with the charitable sector.
“Working with an organisation such as Carr Gomm allows us both to focus on our areas of specialism which leads to a positive outcome for the service user who will live in good quality, well managed property and will receive personalised support from Carr Gomm to help them sustain their tenancy.”
As part of the contract, Orchard and Shipman and Carr Gomm will provide 16 units of single person accommodation in its first year as well as ensuring 24-hour on-site support for those with the highest support needs.
George Lang, policy and development support manager at Carr Gomm, said: “Central to Carr Gomm’s mission is to enhance people’s lives by giving them the opportunity to lead an independent life in their own homes where they will be most comfortable.
“Despite the Scottish economy moving out of the recession we are still faced with challenges and therefore need to adapt by taking a different more innovative approach to provide housing support to vulnerable people.
“Our partnership with Orchard and Shipman is very unique as the voluntary and private sectors aren’t commonly associated.
“It’s an exciting opportunity to be able to work with a housing partner in such a distinct way in order to change people’s lives for the better.”
Mr Lang added: “This housing partnership model has the potential to be replicated and expanded into different areas within Scotland and we’re looking forward to seeing how it progresses.”
A council spokesperson added: “Scottish Borders Council and NHS Borders welcome this initiative which will enable more people to live at home with appropriate support.
“This has been made possible by effective partnership working across a range of agencies, and is a model that can be replicated in the future.”