Council agrees to hold summit on housing debt

The Highland Council has agreed to invite UK and Scottish Government Ministers and Highland MPs and MSPs to a summit on the area’s housing debt.

At a meeting of The Highland Council today (10 March) Members have given their support to Leader of the Council, Cllr Margaret Davidson’s proposal to invite Ministers and MPs from the UK and Scottish Governments to a summit to consider this issue in more detail.

The proposal stated: “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 debt write-off for Shetland Islands.  We think that many of the economic drivers for that deal could equally apply to Highland.”

Cllr Davidson explained: “The Highland Council’s outstanding housing debt is £205m. A significant part of this relates to historic debt inherited from former district councils during local government reorganisation in the 1990s. It also relates to loans taken out by the Council to build and improve Council housing. In 2016/17 the Council’s 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. It is vital that we promote the economic benefits of debt write-off which is why we are pressing for this Housing Summit.”

10 Mar 2016
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