Whether you have been attending special jubilee events or taking part in some of the annual fairs and festivals across Glasgow or have just enjoyed some extra days off work, I hope you've had a good time. This weekend I've enjoyed both the Govan and the Gorbals Fairs and last weekend had the privilege of opening the Southside Festival.
It's always nice – particularly in tough economic times – to have a reason to celebrate and the all too rare glimpses of sunshine over the past couple of weeks have helped put a smile on many faces.
But with economic conditions still very challenging and jobs, particularly for young people, hard to come by, I was delighted to welcome another cause for celebration last week – one that will create jobs, deliver new houses and breathe new life into a proud community.
I am talking, of course, about the start of work on the first phase of the Laurieston Transformational Regeneration Area (TRA) in my constituency. This is a massive £90million investment that will bring new jobs as well as 201 homes for affordable rent to the area.
The work is being jointly funded by the Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council and is being developed by New Gorbals Housing Association, which has a proud record in community regeneration.
The Laurieston TRA is also part of the Scottish Government's determination to deliver on our national target of 6000 new affordable houses each year. With a growing demand for good quality, affordable housing, it is really important that targets like this one continue to be set and met. I am pleased to say that not only are we making good progress in meeting the target, we have actually exceeded it. In total, 6882 homes were delivered under the Affordable Housing Supply Programme in 2011/12, supporting jobs and work for the Scottish construction industry.
Of that total number of new houses, a massive 82% were for social rent.
It is really encouraging that we have exceeded our target for affordable homes in 2011/12.
It means the Scottish Government is well on the way to completing the 6000 affordable homes needed each year to deliver on our overall aim of 30,000 over the life of this Parliament – with at least 20,000 for social rent. Upwards of £710m will be invested in the Affordable Housing Supply Programme (AHSP) over the next three years to achieve this.
Meeting these targets underlines this government's commitment to investing in jobs, supporting our construction industry and growing the economy. Most importantly of all, it is a signal of our commitment to making sure that individuals and families can access good quality affordable housing in their local area.