Council to consider summit on housing debt
The Highland Council is to consider inviting UK and Scottish Government Ministers and Highland MPs and MSPs to a summit on the area’s housing debt.
Housing debt relates to loans taken out by the Council to build and improve Council housing.
The Highland Council’s outstanding housing debt is £205m. A significant element of this relates to historic debt inherited from former district councils at local government reorganisation in the 1990s, associated with council house building programmed to support local economic development in the hydro and oil industries.
Housing debt is repaid in the form of loan charges to the Council’s housing revenue account which is funded from Council tenants’ rents. In 2016/17 annual loan charges are expected to be around £20m. Nearly 40 pence in every £1 of rent income received by the Council is needed to service housing debt.
In a Motion to be considered by the Highland Council on 10 March, Leader of The Highland Council, Cllr Margaret Davidson proposes to invite Ministers and MPs from the UK and Scottish Governments to a summit to consider this issue in more detail.
Councillor Davidson states: “We believe that the only way to progress the relief of the Highland’s Housing Debt is to get people round the table. So I will be asking for the Council’s support to invite UK and Scottish Government Ministers and Highland MPs and MSPs to a summit on Highland’s Housing Debt in order to promote the benefits of debt write-off for Highland Council tenants, the Highland and Scottish economy.
“We have already seen cooperation between the UK Government and Scottish Government resulting in £20M housing debt write-off for Shetland Islands. We think that many of the economic drivers for that deal could equally apply to Highland.”