SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Alasdair Allan, has welcomed today’s funding announcement from First Minister Humza Yousaf, which will help key workers in rural and island areas to access affordable housing.
This follows earlier comments from the First Minister in support of a pilot scheme to buy back or long-lease homes in rural and island areas which are currently empty. This would allow houses to be used by key workers and others in need of somewhere to live.
Using money from the affordable housing budget, the First Minister today confirmed in the chamber that a fund of £25 million will be set up for the scheme. Humza Yousaf also highlighted the Scottish Government’s commitment to publishing an action plan for housing in remote, rural and island areas, which will include this initiative.
Today’s announcement follows proposals outlined in a joint Scottish Government and COSLA consultation, launched on Monday, which would allow local authorities to increase council tax rates on second homes, in another effort to address housing pressures in rural and island areas.
Commenting after the First Minister’s speech today, Alasdair Allan said:
“I welcome this demonstration of the First Minister’s continued commitment to Scotland’s rural and island communities, and his recognition of the vital need for more affordable housing to aid population retention and growth in areas like the Western Isles.
“It is essential that our islands’ key workers are able to access affordable, high-quality housing. The Scottish Government’s commitment to bring empty homes back into use, as well as additional scope for local authorities to increase council tax on second homes (which often lie empty for much of the year), are both important steps. They can both help ease the pressure on housing in rural communities and ensure that young people and families can afford to continue living in and contributing to our islands.”