A new four year £12million investment sees Hebridean Housing Partnership (HHP) spend over £30million on island housing over eight years.
And maintaining and improving the social landlords’ housing stock is top priority.
Kevin Paterson, HHP’s investment spokesperson, expanded: “We are coming to the end of our current four year and £14m investment programme which we have delivered ahead of time and within budget.
“This further £12m investment in tenant’s homes demonstrates HHP’s commitment to ensure that tenant’ homes are maintained to the highest standard and that we continue to deliver the quality of homes and services that tenants aspire to.”
Established as a Registered Social Landlord in September 2006, HHP currently holds 2,246 properties throughout the Western Isles.
There are HHP houses in most island villages, although the largest concentrations are in the main settlements of Stornoway, Tarbert, Balivanich and Castlebay.
Just under 30% of the housing stock is one bedroom properties, with the rest being two or more bedroom; and just over 80% of the stock is houses, with flats being located mostly in Stornoway.
Since 2006, Hebridean Housing Partnership have also built just over 300 new properties to aid housing island residents.
The latest round of funding is for investment into current stock exclusively, however, with new build funds operated separately; and the new £12million will be used to continue the investment programme that has proved successful.
Explaining the work already taken, HHP Director of Operations, John MacIver, said: “Virtually all houses have had loft and cavity wall insulation provided or upgraded.
“We have replaced windows in around 650 homes; we have installed almost 400 new heating systems; and we have also fitted around 500 kitchens and 300 bathrooms.”
Mr MacIver highlighted that almost all of the investment works so far have been delivered by local contractors, providing a boost to local economy; and, going forward under the latest £12m investment, he expanded that the main elements of work will be on heating, insulation, window replacement, kitchen and bathroom replacement and some roofing and rough-casting work.
This investment programme, it is HHP’s aim, will continue to alleviate the effects of fuel poverty through a focus on insulation works and the installation of modern efficient heating systems.
A 2014 TEAS (The Energy Advisory Service) survey revealed the Western Isles has the worst fuel poverty rating, not only in the UK, but in the whole of Western Europe with seven out of ten people living in fuel poverty (spending more than 10% of their income on fuel); 18% of island households living in severe fuel poverty (spending 20% of income) and 11% in extreme fuel poverty (spending a massive 30% of income on fuel).
“We have focused on installing or upgrading loft and cavity wall insulation and installing double glazing,” said Mr MacIver, detailing the money-saving steps taken by the islands’ social landlord.
“We have also done a small amount of coombe insulation; and have installed over 300 air source heating systems.
“This is part of our work to try to reduce the levels of fuel poverty amongst our tenants,” he added.