In recent years most “affordable housing” in rural Scotland has been provided by housing associations, or Registered Social Landlords (RSLs). RSLs receive grant funding from the Scottish Government to subsidise the cost of building houses enabling them to charge “affordable rents” of on average £280 per month. Most government funding for new affordable housing is channelled through housing associations.
(See Finding Finance for more information)
The level of grant has been reducing in recent years making it more difficult for RSLs to provide rented housing at these rent levels. In rural areas in particular development has been difficult because of high development costs and few economies of scale possible in the small developments required.
Working with a housing association has been the predominant way in which rural communities have developed new affordable housing in their community, with most government investment routed through RSLs they remain the main route for the development of rented housing at affordable rents. There are many ways communities can work together with housing associations to ensure housing built meets local need and reflects community wishes in its design and location.
Click here to look at how rural communities have worked in partnership with housing associations + councils to meet local needs.
Some communities are however seeking to develop affordable housing themselves, to develop a community asset which they can manage for the benefit of local people. This route can however be longer and more difficult as there is little housing grant available to communities, however, at our annual conference in February 2016, the (then) Housing Minister, Margaret Burgess announced the new Rural Housing Fund. The Rural Housing Fund opened to applications in April 2016 and seeks to increase affordable housing for rent and sale in rural Scotland. The fund is open to a wide range of applicants including community groups, development trusts and private landowners as well as the more traditional housing providers i.e housing associations, the council.
Previously, communities have successfully developed rented housing using housing grant, while others are developing ways of providing housing for rent and ownership which does not require grant support. Click here to discover how these communities have succeeded.