Over £15m of capital investment to improve Highland housing stock
14th August 2020
Members of The Highland Council's Housing and Property Committee have agreed a one-year capital investment plan of £15.667 million to be spent improving existing housing stock - £1 million of which will be specifically to fund aids and adaptations for disabled tenants.
The money will be allocated on an area-by-area basis with local members making decisions on projects to be carried out during 2021-2022.
The programme focuses on priority projects identified by local maintenance teams through previous inspections, along with analysis of the existing local housing stock and includes measures to improve heating and energy efficiency.
Each one-year area programme will be presented to local Members for their final approval in the coming months.
The distribution of funding to each area follows criteria set by the council based on the amount and condition of existing housing stock and includes money ring fenced for aids and adaptations.
Caithness - £2.253m
Sutherland - £1.052m
Easter Ross - £2.216m
Wester Ross, Strathpeffer and Lochalsh - £551,000
Black Isle, Dingwall and Seaforth - £1.380m
Isle of Skye and Raasay - £548,000
Inverness - £4.786m
Nairnshire - £789,000
Lochaber - £1,490,000
Badenoch and Strathspey - £602,000
Chair of the Committee, Cllr Ben Thompson said: "It had been our intention to bring forward proposals for a new 5-year capital plan to take us up to 2026 but in view of the Covid-19 emergency, the 1-year plan agreed today means members and housing staff can have more time to work on a longer-term plan to run from 2022-2027. By deferring the five year plan we are giving ourselves extra time to analyse the impacts of Covid-19 and for more member discussions to take place around the details.
"In the meantime, I am sure local members will want to put forward priority projects and make sure their allocation of money is invested where it is needed most."
All capital housing projects scheduled for this year were suspended in March. Cllr Thompson is pleased that work has now resumed. He said: “As soon as we got the go-ahead from the Scottish Government, our current schedule of works for this year restarted in July but there is slippage to the programme due to the pandemic. We are currently focussing on external works and completing outstanding projects rather than initiating new works. Our Housing team are working closely with contractors to ensure all heightened health and safety measures are in place to protect our staff, contractors and tenants. All tenants affected by this delay have been notified and I thank everyone for their understanding."
A comprehensive report will be submitted to the September Committee detailing expenditure to date and estimated out-turns for 2020-21.
Highland Councillors have commended the Council's ongoing efforts to reduce carbon consumption over the past year. Members have welcomed the information that the Council has saved over 6,000 tonnes of carbon this year.
Virtual education in Highland - Supportive, Interactive, Engaging. The Highland Council can support and deliver education to any pupils who are asked to self-isolate by the Health Protection Team, in all of our 203 schools across the region.
Young people at school are the winners as a result of discussions between High Life Highland and The Highland Council that will see the Charity's staff phased back into schools after the October break. Speaking about the arrangement, High Life Highland Chairman, Ian Ross said, "I am delighted that once again our partnership working arrangements with colleagues in The Highland Council mean that High Life Highland staff will be able to recommence their work with young people during the school day and within school buildings.
The Highland Council is calling on the UK Government to help resolve the inequity of fuel poverty experienced in the Highlands of Scotland where people pay more for fuel and energy than other regions in the UK. Leader of The Highland Council, Cllr Margaret Davidson has written to the UK Government's Minister of State (Minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth) The Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP calling on the government to replace the current electricity distribution system with one that replicates that of gas and telecoms and share the cost of energy distribution equally across the UK.
To mark Scotland's Climate Week for 2020, which runs from today until the 20th September, The Highland Council has organised a range of virtual events to share information and seek views from Highland residents and Council employees on climate related topics. Whilst the circumstances for Climate Week 2020 are very different to previous years, it still provides an important opportunity for organisations and communities to celebrate and showcase what they are doing to tackle climate change.
Highland residents are being warned that letters claiming they have won a share of £425,000 in a ‘postcode lottery' is a scam. The letters appear to be targeting the Skye area but are likely to be sent to various addresses across the Highland area.
Fiona Malcolm, has been appointed by The Highland Council as Interim Executive Chief Officer with immediate effect for Health and Social Care, pending recruitment of the permanent ECO post which is currently taking place. A qualified solicitor, Fiona has worked within the legislative and policy frameworks in place for both children's care and adult social care since joining The Highland Council in 2001.
Communities in The Highland Council area are to benefit from Crown Estates funding to be disbursed by the local authority. Councillors have agreed a funding distribution model to enable the disbursement of over £3million Crown Estates funds across the region.
Council today agreed an urgent motion by Cllrs Margaret Davidson, Andrew Jarvie, Alasdair Christie and Jimmy Gray with a call for more detailed local information sharing on Covid-19 for members in local government. The motion is as follows: "Throughout the pandemic we have received information on national and Highland wide numbers infected with Covid 19.
At the meeting on 9 September 2020 of the Council's Housing and Property Committee, Officers confirmed that house building targets will be met despite lockdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Chair of the committee, Cllr Ben Thompson, said: "I am delighted that we are able to continue to meet our targets for the Council house building programme.