Orkney’s MSP Liam McArthur has now lodged a series of questions to be answered by the Scottish Government, highlighting apparent ‘obstacles’ preventing new homes and refurbishments being progressed under the Rural and Islands Housing Fund.
The fund was set up in 2016 in order to increase the supply of affordable housing in rural and island communities.
Mr McArthur’s questions follow concerns being raised about the low uptake of the Fund. Data recently obtained under Freedom of Information legislation showed that the scheme is not on track to meet the government’s targets, and much of the money set aside has not been spent.
At a local level, recent figures published by the Scottish Government showed that in the last year there were only two projects approved in Orkney, out of a total 121 across Scotland.
Commenting, Mr McArthur said:
“A lack of affordable housing is a problem facing most if not all island communities. The Rural and Islands Housing fund was supposed to provide an ideal opportunity to address this problem. By the government’s own admission, however, it is clearly failing to deliver on the ground.
“Those directly involved in trying to take forward projects talk about ‘substantial barriers’ preventing use of the fund. If that is indeed the case then Ministers must act to remove those barriers and allow the funds to deliver the affordable housing that is key to sustaining our rural and island communities.
“I will continue to press the government to make sure the Rural and Island Housing Fund does what it says on the tin.”