Housing Minister visits Isles

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Housing and Welfare Minister Margaret Burgess will be on Lewis today (Tuesday) to mark the start of her Summer Tour programme.

She will visit a number of organisations including Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Hebridean Housing Partnership, Tighean Innse Gall, the local Poverty Action Group, and Hebridean Connections to learn about local housing supply and the impact of welfare reform on the western isles community.

She will visit the new housing development at the former Gibson Hostel which is nearing completion. Once complete, this project will comprise 24 homes. The project has received £2.4 million in support from the Scottish Government.

At the ceremony the Minister will plant a tree to mark the completion of the construction phase of the project. 

Commenting on the development, Housing and Welfare Minister Margaret Burgess said:

“I’d like to congratulate Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Hebridean Housing Partnership for their work on this project so far.

“Once complete this development will provide 24 new homes including six for those with additional needs.

“In addition to providing new housing for people in and around Stornoway, this development has also helped to boost the local economy by providing opportunities for the construction sector and for those employed in it.

“It is my belief that everyone in Scotland should live in safe affordable homes that not only meet their needs, but support the development of sustainable communities.”

She will also officially open the New Supply Shared Equity (NSSE) with Developers scheme at Tong Park, Tong. This project has provided four semi detached bungalows for families in the area and is the first such scheme in Eilean Siar.

Commenting on the new scheme, Housing and Welfare Minister Margaret Burgess said:

“People in Scotland who should rightly be able to afford a mortgage are still facing real challenges buying a home.

“That is why initiatives like this one at Tong Park are so welcome. Not only will they help people to buy their first home, they will also help ‘second-steppers’ to be able to sell their home and to move to another property.

“But this is not only about helping people to buy houses. Our actions are also stimulating the local economy. By supporting house buying and construction, we are creating new work for the sector and supporting jobs.

“This demonstrates that in these tough financial times the Scottish Government will step in, both to help households and crucial sectors of our economy like house building.”

In addition to the media events outlined, Mrs Burgess will also meet with Comhairle’s Poverty Action Group during her visit to discuss the impact of welfare reform on the local community.

Commenting in advance of the visit, she said:

“It is unacceptable that hard working people and vulnerable groups in the Western Isles are bearing the brunt of the UK Government’s welfare cuts. 
“The Scottish Government is doing all it can to mitigate the worst impacts of these reforms, and where we have responsibility, we are investing to limit the damage that these cuts will have on people and organisations across Scotland.

“This includes providing an additional £7.9 million for organisations in Scotland who provide advice and support services to those affected by these reforms. This funding will help these organisations respond to the increase in demand for their services as a direct result of the UK Government’s reforms. This also includes £2.5 million to help social landlords support those affected by the bedroom tax and other housing benefit changes.

“We have also invested more in our new Scottish Welfare Fund and Western Isles Council will receive over £47,000 in 2013-14 to provide grant support for those who need it most.

“Our vision of an independent Scotland, is one which will encourage those people who can - and should work - into work and provide fair and decent support for those who need it most.”