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£87m Unspent From New Homes Budget in Scotland

A UK charity recently warned that a vast shortage of affordable homes in Scotland, combined with stagnant wages and welfare reforms, is driving more and more people towards homelessness.

An estimated £87m of the funds allotted to housing went unspent last year. This includes £36m of infrastructure loans and £24m of Help to Buy financing that would-be homeowners did not claim.

The Scottish government claimed that any implication that the cash surplus was due to low levels of new home spending was completely untrue. However, Labour finance representative Jackie Baillie still decried the situation as unacceptable. The term she used was “disgraceful”.

Ms. Baillie added that the country’s world-renowned homelessness legislation was not being properly applied. To still have millions of pounds in new build spending underused was, for the SNP government, a dereliction of duty.

A careful analysis of the 2016-17 budget reveals that £34m of the underspend consists of receipts from the sale of Scottish Government-funded properties or land. Another £36m belonged to the Infrastructure Loan Fund, which finances projects such as access roads for new housing developments.

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Due to delays in invoicing and completion, £10m earmarked for energy efficiency measures was not spent, and £24m intended for equity-based affordable housing and demand-led loan schemes was not used because not enough people applied, or applications were not processed during that time period.

Shelter Scotland said that it assisted over 21,000 people in the past year, with an average of one Scottish household becoming homeless every 19 minutes.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said that any suggestion that the surplus was due to reduced new home spending and lack of support for vulnerable citizens and communities was completely untrue.

They explained that the figure was connected to projects where funding was led by demand as well as complex and bigger-scale projects. A substantial amount was from higher than anticipated receipt from the sale of government-funded stock and homes, making it a case of extra money coming in instead of funds being unspent.

 

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