Covid continuing to impact housebuilding programme says Highland Council

Inverness, capital of the Highlands

THE Highland Council has said it ‘remains committed’ to carrying out its agreed housing revenue account (HRA) capital programme, despite continuing pressure resulting from Covid-19.

The local authority said progress against the HRA capital programme continues to be impacted by pandemic-related restrictions.

It added that labour and material shortages at national and local level are also impacting works, with it saying that little improvement is expected until ‘at least’ the beginning of 2022.

Further to this, it said there is also reduced productivity from factories and mills, as well as a shortage of haulage drivers, port delays and construction demand fluctuations.

Chair of The Highland Council’s housing and property committee, councillor Laurie Fraser, said, “These issues will result in ongoing delays, but The Highland Council is determined to continue with its programme and contractual discussions are ongoing to accelerate works where possible. In particular, efforts are being made to prioritise certain works, such as heating replacements and adaptations and to minimise delays.”

The council added that it is anticipated that the future mainstream HRA capital programme will deliver a minimum of 120 new completions within the current financial year, plus 32 one-off individual purchases.

Members at a meeting of the housing and property committee approved the overall HRA mainstream capital budget of £88.599 million for 2022-2027.

The local authority added that the HRA mainstream capital programme will see a ‘phased investment’ to allow project management staff time to work with the construction industry to package projects within a workable timescale and achieve value for money.

Members agreed with the recommendation that the focus on the 2022/23 programme be on carrying out the most essential investment works, such as one-off installations like urgent heating replacements as identified by the local maintenance teams.

They also agreed that the programme for adaptations will remain the same across all 5 years of the plan, rather than varied across years to ensure that any works assessed by Occupational Therapy are progressed as quickly as possible.