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Funding Will Deliver Hundreds of Affordable Homes



£50 million of Scottish Government investment in charitable bonds over the next two years will provide support for almost 1,000 new homes.

Four housing associations will benefit from this year’s £25 million bonds – Kingdom in Fife, Eildon in the Borders, Orkney and Ayrshire. A further £25 million is earmarked for 2016-17.

The bonds, issued by Allia, a social investment charity, provide a new source of finance for housing associations to build around 750 new affordable homes, while interest on the loans provide grants for 200 social homes.

This year’s £25.6m investment has resulted in £18.9 million in loans for new affordable homes, and over £6.7 million grant funding, to be allocated by the Scottish Government, to build new homes for social rent.

Speaking after visiting a Kingdom Housing Association development near Dunfermline, Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil said: “Innovative financing schemes such as charitable bonds will play a major role in our approach to supporting a major expansion in housing supply over the next parliamentary term.

“Between 2013 and end of March next year we will have supported the building of more than 1,000 homes by investing £62 million in charitable bonds, the only Government in the UK to do so. The bonds are ethical financial products that are providing housing associations in Scotland with easily accessible development finance for new affordable homes.

“I am delighted that these four housing associations have benefited from the bond programme and I look forward to more development finance for other housing associations over the year.

“We have now exceeded our target of delivering 30,000 affordable homes in this Parliamentary term, including nearly 21,000 social homes. Our ambitions go further though, which is why we have committed to deliver a further 35,000 social homes as part of our plans to build 50,000 more affordable homes over the next five years, backed up with investment of more than £3 billion.”

Phil Caroe, Allia’s Director of Social Finance said: “The four loans made by Allia with Scottish Government’s investment will have significant benefit for communities across the country. We’re seeing strong demand already from potential borrowers for next financial year and will be inviting other investors to come alongside the Government to support the development of more affordable housing in Scotland.”

Rhonda Leith, Ayrshire Housing Association chair said: “Alongside the recent uplift in grant rates, this innovative bond finance will help housing associations to build at a much greater rate. The guaranteed funding stream from Allia means that we can now seek out and plan new developments with much greater confidence than before”.

Nick Pollard, Kingdom Housing Association Director of Finance said, “We are delighted to be involved in this innovative funding which is being provided by Scottish Government using Financial Transaction Fund support and the Allia charitable bonds vehicle. It enables us to continue to deliver much needed homes across the Fife region meeting our planned objectives.”

Sandy Dennison, Finance Manager with Orkney Housing Association said “We are currently working on an ambitious development programme, and the terms of the charitable bond mean that we can keep building high quality affordable homes whilst minimising future rent increases. We will use this funding to support an additional build of 24 rented properties over the next year.”

Nile Istephan, Eildon Housing Association chief executive said: “Eildon Housing Association are pleased to have secured £10 million of loan finance from the Scottish Government through the Allia administered scheme. The deal makes sense for us as it provides a long term source of funding to grow our business and meet housing need in the Scottish Borders where demand for quality affordable homes continues to outstrip supply.

“The deal has been straightforward to arrange as it provides unsecured loan finance and fits well with our overall treasury management strategy. As a result of this funding we will be able to develop much needed new social rented homes in Galashiels, Newtown St Boswells and Kelso.”


These 5 Green Office Mistakes Are Costing You Money




eco-friendly green offices
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Stokkete |

The sudden interest in green business is very encouraging. According to recent reports, 42% of all companies have rated sustainability as an important element of their business. Unfortunately, the focus on sustainability will only last if companies can find ways to use it to boost their ROI.

Many businesses get so caught up in being socially conscious that they hope the financial aspect of it takes care of itself. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to go green and boost your net income at the same time.

Here are some important mistakes that you will want to avoid.

Only implementing sustainability on micro-scale

The biggest reason that brands are going green is to improve their optics with their customers. Too many businesses are making very minor changes, such as processing paperwork online and calling themselves green.

Customers have become wary of these types of companies. If you want to earn their business, you are going to need to go all the way. Bring in a green business consultant and make every feasible change to demonstrate that you are a green organization from top to bottom.

Not prioritizing investments by long-term ROI

It isn’t realistic to build an entirely green organization overnight. You will need to allocate your capital wisely.

Before investing in any green assets or services, you should always conduct a long-term cost benefit analysis. The initial investment for some green services may be over $20,000. If they don’t shave your cost by at least $3,000 a year, they probably aren’t worth the investment.

Determine which green investments will have the best pay off over the next 10 years. Make these investments before anything else. Then compare your options within each of those categories.

Implementing green changes without a plan

Effective, long-term planning is the key to business success. This principle needs to be applied to green organizations as well.

Before implementing a green strategy, you must answer the following questions:

  • How will I communicate my green business philosophy to my customers?
  • How will running a green business affect my revenue stream?
  • How will adopting green business strategies change my monthly expenses? Will they increase or decrease them?
  • How will my company finance green upgrades and other investments?

The biggest mistake that too many green businesses make is being overly optimistic with these forecasts. Take the time to collect objective data and make your decisions accordingly. This will help you run a much more profitable green business.

Not considering the benefits of green printing

Too many companies believe that going paperless is the only way to run a green organization. Unfortunately, going 100% paperless it’s not feasible for most companies.

Rather than aim for an unrealistic goal, consider the option of using a more environmentally friendly printer. It won’t be perfect, but it will be better than the alternative.

According to experts from Doranix, environmental printers have several benefits:

  • They can process paper that has been completely recycled.
  • They consume less energy than traditional printers.
  • They use ink that is more environmentally friendly.

You want to take a look at different green printers and compare them. You’ll find that some will meet your needs as a green business.

Poorly communicating your green business strategy to customers

Brand positioning doesn’t happen on its own. If you want to run a successful green business, you must communicate your message to customers as clearly as possible. You must also avoid the appearance that you are patronizing them.

The best approach is to be clear when you were first making the change. I’ll make an announcement about your company‘s commitment to sustainability.

You also want to reinforce this message overtime by using green labels on all of your products. You don’t have to be blatant with your messaging at this stage. Simply provide a small, daily reminder on your products and invoices.

Finally, it is a good idea to participate in green business seminars and other events. If your community has a local Green Chamber of Commerce, you should consider joining as well.

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Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis




Energy Investments
Shutterstock / By Sergey Nivens |

Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.

Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long your retirement savings will last?

Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.

Tip #1: Focus & Determination

Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.

Tip #2: Minimize Spending

One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!

Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal

You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.

Investing in Clean Energy

One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.

With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.

The Future of Green Biz

As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.

Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.

In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!

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