Council takes the lead in affordable homes plan

An initiative hoping to provide up to 600 affordable homes in Edinburgh has moved a step closer.

National housing trust launch

The City of Edinburgh Council is leading the way among Scottish local authorities taking part in the National Housing Trust (NHT) scheme.

NHT, being spearheaded by the Scottish Government and Scottish Futures Trust, developers have been invited to participate in a scheme that will see the purchase of newly-built houses by local authorities with loans underwritten by the Scottish Government.

The NHT procurement has been advertised this week and will appear on the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) website - all tenders from the public sector valued above a certain financial threshold must be published in the OJEU.

The NHT is designed to kick-start activity on mothballed building sites and create or safeguard around 1,000 jobs in the construction sector across Scotland .

Twelve authorities have signed up and housing developers are being asked to respond to the OJEU advert by October 25, 2010.

Councillor Norman Work, vice-convener for Housing at the City of Edinburgh Council , said the Council was delighted to be involved in the scheme.

"This is an innovative way of tackling the shortage of affordable homes not just in Edinburgh but around the country.

"Everyone knows more needs to be done and it's important the public and private sector work in partnership on this project.

"My message to developers is 'get on board' now and let's give the construction industry and affordable housing market a much-needed boost."

In Edinburgh where 600 NHT homes are being sought, Housing and Communities Minister Alex Neil said:

"Building more affordable homes across Scotland presents a formidable challenge in a climate of increasing financial constraint.

"The National Housing Trust model breaks new ground in the UK and I am delighted that so many councils have embraced this approach as one that can help solve housing pressures locally.

"The scheme has been designed to ensure that homes delivered through the National Housing Trust are affordable and offer good value for taxpayers' money."

Barry White, Chief Executive of the Scottish Futures Trust, said:

"In these challenging economic times, NHT opens the doors to build affordable housing in Scotland . This demonstrates how the public and private sectors can work together in an imaginative way.

"Such innovation is at the heart of Scottish Futures Trust's work to attract additional finance while ensuring value for money for the taxpayer."

Jonathan Fair from industry body Homes for Scotland said:

"The NHT is a prime example of the sort of progressive thinking that must be applied to meeting Scotland 's housing needs at a time when public spending is under tremendous pressure.

"The benefits of such an approach are significant. In addition to helping support economic recovery and maintaining a skill base, the NHT will offer housing options to a market segment currently uncatered for - those stuck between social renting and outright home ownership."

The National Housing Trust initiative is an innovative scheme that will enable new build homes to be acquired from developers in a joint partnership scheme between the local authority, developers, the Scottish Futures Trust and the Scottish Government.

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