Affordable homes on the up?

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THE number of affordable homes in the Borders could increase in the next few years if Housing Minister Keith Brown stands by his commitment.

Speaking last week, he said that targeted capital investment will boost the number of affordable houses in Scotland, protect jobs and stimulate economic growth.

Mr Brown MSP reaffirmed a commitment to deliver 30,000 completed affordable homes, by the end of this Parliament, backed by investment of £600 million. At least 20,000 will be for social rent.

He also revealed plans to consult shortly on proposals to allow local authorities, including Scottish Borders Council, to charge a Council Tax levy on Scotland’s 25,000 long-term empty homes.

Speaking during a Housing Debate in the Scottish Parliament, he said: “Despite drastic cuts by the UK Government we are investing to help increase the supply of affordable homes, which remains one our top priorities. We our committed to delivering 30,000 affordable homes during this Parliament.

“It is a vital strand of our efforts to build a better and a fairer Scotland, addressing homelessness and affordability issues, and continuing to regenerate our most deprived neighbourhoods.

“Empty homes are a wasted resource. That is why we aim to bring forward legislation next year to allow Councils to charge the levy from April 2013, helping to bring empty homes back into use and provide more revenue for Councils to use for affordable housing.”