Highland Council Confirms Council House Building Targets Will Be Met Despite Covid-19 Lockdown
10th September 2020
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. This programme, and the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Capital programme, both experienced delays when lockdown commenced earlier this year as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
As lockdown restrictions are carefully being lifted in our communities, we can now focus on safely resuming our work in these programmes with us being able to keep our overall spend and income assumptions on our Council house building targets".
Progress against the mainstream HRA programme has been impacted by the Covid-19 restrictions that halted all capital works on site. All tenants who had scheduled works in Spring/Summer 2020 were notified of the delays.
As of 31 August, all capital projects have re-started on site and contractors have been adhering to the Covid-19 guidelines to ensure that works are carried out as safely as possible.
Housing Policy & Investment Manager, Brain Cameron, said: “The new build projects are back on site, and progressing well, in line with health and safety guidelines. It is estimated that there will be 106 new council house completions by March 2021. An updated Strategic Housing Investment Programme will be submitted to strategic committee in November and this will provide more detail on both new and existing projects across Highland”.
The new Council house build programme was approved at the Environment, Development & Infrastructure Committee on 7 November 2019 as part of the Council’s Strategic Housing Investment Programme 2020-2025
At today's meeting of The Highland Council members gave their backing to a motion that highlights the need for the UK Government to review the sick pay system and reform it as a matter of urgency. Councillor Alasdair Christie, Chair of the Council's Recovery Board who put forward the motion along with Councillor Alex Graham said: "It has become more obvious than ever during the current Covid 19 crisis that there are clear and substantial long-standing inadequacies in the sick pay system.
REGIONAL Labour MSP Rhoda Grant has welcomed a commitment from Highland Council to return all schools to a hot meal service. In a letter to the MSP this week, the local authority confirmed more than 60 per cent of schools have gone back to serving hot meals already and it said all schools are expected to follow suit "shortly".
The Leader and the Chief Executive of The Highland Council earlier today took part in a meeting of COSLA focussing on the Scottish Government's new five level protection system for Covid. The meeting gave council leaders the opportunity to examine in more detail the mechanism outlined by the Scottish Government along with the framework of how the tier system will be implemented.
Following its launch on Tuesday 20th October 2020, Highland Council has received and paid out the first Business Hardship Fund grants. As part of the Scottish Government's response to the COVID-19 Brake Restrictions which came into effect on 9 October, the Council has been asked to deliver this grant scheme on behalf of the Scottish Government.
Highland Council Trading Standards are keen to raise awareness of the role of The Small Business Financial Ombudsman Service in resolving disputes between small and medium sized businesses (SME's) and financial service providers which include banks, insurance and money lending businesses. David MacKenzie, Highland Council Trading Standards Manager explains: "We realise the financial struggle that some SME's have had recently because of Covid 19 restrictions.
At the Caithness Area Committee on 22 October 2020 members unanimously confirmed their full support to the business case for Wick John O'Groats Airport to receive Public Service Obligation (PSO) status by putting forward a motion and reinforcing their commitment to working with stakeholders and partners to deliver this as a matter of urgency. The motion lodged recognises the fundamental strategic importance of Wick John O’Groats Airport to the economy of the region, and the energy, business and tourism sectors in particular.
Members of the Caithness Committee have identified fuel poverty as their number one concern and are pleased to announce that the member-led capital housing budget has increased to 10% as they welcome £2,253,000 of investment which will be used to carry out improvements to the housing stock across the county. A specific priority of the capital programme is improving heating and make homes more energy efficient, with over £1,300,000 of budget approved to replace the oldest and most inefficient heating systems with a further £150,000 for one-off heating replacements.
Highland Council Trading Standards supports FASathon - the Friends Against Scams marathon day Highland Council Trading Standards is encouraging Highland residents to take part in ‘FASathon', the Friends Against Scams marathon day, on 21st October 2020. The aim of the FASathon campaign is to get as many people as possible to complete the free Friends Against Scams online awareness session to learn about the different types of scams and how to protect yourself and others against scams.
By intervening, Local Government has reduced the worst impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic for the most vulnerable in our communities, COSLA said today (Wednesday). COSLA also said that is why their Blueprint outlines the lead role of Local Government in securing a fair and inclusive recovery with a strong focus on human rights, tackling poverty and addressing inequalities.
In advance of the 2021 tourism season, Members of The Highland Council's Tourism Committee have agreed that the local authority will continue to work and engage with partners, national agencies and local communities to meet the challenges and opportunities that exist in the region for motorhomes and wild camping tourism. Councillor Maxine Smith, Tourism Committee Chair said: "While coronavirus and the increased demand for staycations in the UK have played a large part in the massive increase in demands placed on the Highlands of Scotland from across the UK, the evidence does show that motorhome ownership and hire has been increasing over recent years.