Forward-thinking on housing continues to pay dividends for Glaswegians

THIS year sees the 10th anniversary of one of the most significant developments in the regeneration of Glasgow - the transfer of the council's housing stock to Glasgow Housing Association.

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It's useful to think about where we were in 2003 – a chronically underfunded public housing stock, with over £900million of housing debt.

Tenants living in cold, damp homes unfit for the 20th Century, let alone the 21st.

While the problems were clear, pressing ahead with housing stock transfer was a brave decision for Glasgow City Council to make.

Looking back to 2003, I'm certain that it was the right decision.

Since the transfer, the council, GHA and other housing partners in the city have achieved a great deal for 85,000 tenants.

Working together, we have secured unprecedented investment to modernise Glasgow's housing stock, ensuring tenants are able to enjoy living in their warm, dry homes in safety.

Since 2003, almost £1.2billion of investment has been made in Glasgow's homes.

This is an unparalleled commitment to housing in the city, and you can see the difference that has been made in transforming the quality of neighbourhoods and improving the quality of lives.

Houses across the city have been modernised with overcladding and modern heating systems, new windows, roofs, kitchens and bathrooms all installed.

This investment has allowed tenants to enjoy affordable and stable rents, and we have promo- ted community empowerment, involving more residents than ever before in the decisions that affect their homes and communities.

This has all been deliv- ered on time and within budget. This is testament to management at the GHA and demonstrates the value of the brave decision to transfer the housing stock.

But we cannot rest on our laurels. In last year's local government poll, Labour was elected on a promise to build 3500 new houses in the city.

Each new house built is a home for a family, and we will continue to drive forward new building in this city, creating jobs and apprenticeships in the process.

We also promised to establish a scheme to provide mortgages for first-time buyers and I was delighted to announce the launch of this at the end of last year.

Through this scheme, the council has approved an initial £1million which will be run through Lloyds Banking Group.

The council will under- write 20% of deposits, allowing suitable buyers to obtain a 95% mortgage on similar terms to a 75% mortgage but without the need to find the large deposit.

For many in our city, getting their feet on to the property ladder is only a dream when faced with trying to save a massive deposit before they can get access to an affordable mortgage.

I am proud that Glasgow is the first local authority in Scotland to offer this scheme to people. It again shows that we are working hard to be at the forefront of innovative ideas that will ensure there is opportunity for all to make our citizens' lives better.

We've come a long way since brave decision 10 years ago

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