Housing charity faces uncertain future over funding

The future of a community housing charity that encourages the building of more affordable homes in remote and rural areas has been highlighted at the Scottish Parliament.

Friday, 12th November 2021, 3:31 pm
Galloway and West Dumfries MSP Finlay Carson raised the matter in the Scottish Parliament

The plight of South of Scotland Community Housing (SoSCH) which is facing an uncertain future unless it receives urgent core government funding was raised by Galloway and West Dumfries MSP Finlay Carson.

Speaking at Holyrood last week, Mr Carson had earlier asked what support the Scottish Government was providing to ease the growing housing crisis in many remote and rural communities.

He said: “South of Scotland Community Housing was founded after a study by Shelter Scotland identified a shortfall in rural housing supply in Dumfries and Galloway.

“Providing technical and professional support to 35 communities and landowners, SOSCH helps to deliver affordable homes that address special local needs.

“Community Land Scotland and the Scottish Land Commission have praised its remarkable work and would like it to upgrade its operations, but the charity now finds itself in a precarious position after the Scottish Government stopped its revenue funding in March 2020.

“Given its proven track record in rural housing delivery, I am sure that the minister will agree that it is ludicrous that its core funding has been halted.

“What assurances can the minister given that its immediate future will not be in doubt?”

Shona Robison, cabinet secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government, promised to investigate.

She said: “I will write to Finlay Carson on the specifics of South of Scotland Community Housing.

“However, we want to work with third sector partners, registered social landlords, social enterprises and housing co-operatives to help us deliver what is an ambitious programme across Scotland, including in remote and rural areas.

“We have committed to delivering 110,000 affordable homes by 2032, of which 70 per cent will be available for social rent and 10 per cent will be in our remote, rural and island communities.”

Afterwards, Mr Carson remained hopeful funds could be found.

He added: “Given the enormous amount of work carried out by the charity in enabling and delivering rural housing in Dumfries and Galloway I would like to think the Scottish Government will help them continue.

“I am due to meet Mike Staples and his team later this week to hear more about some of their projects, so hopefully there will be some positive feedback from the cabinet secretary.”

A spokesperson for the charity said: “SOSCH is greatly appreciative of Mr Carson’s support for our work and his highlighting this important issue as we continue to engage with the Scottish Government around funding and ensuring we are able to continue to enable and increase the delivery of vital housing in our rural communities.”