Barlinnie inmates to build Glasgow social housing

Hard work from the inmates of the Bar-L will pay off for low-cost housing. Picture: Getty Images
Hard work from the inmates of the Bar-L will pay off for low-cost housing. Picture: Getty Images
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CURRENT and former offenders are to help build 40 affordable homes as part of a social enterprise scheme in Glasgow.

The project, a partnership between Triodos Bank and Glasgow Together Community Interest Company, will see homes built on two initial plots in Baillieston and Riddrie.

In total 50 ex-offenders will be given paid work and a further 50 current offenders, serving sentences in HMP Barlinnie, given unpaid work experience and taught construction skills such as brick laying, plastering, carpentry, painting and decoration as part of the project.

Up to 40 new affordable homes will be built with the help of the offenders who will gain valuable work experience whilst also learning skills that may help them reduce the likelihood of reoffending on release.

The scheme is funded by way of a £2 million bond, which has been issued to investors - the capital raised will be used to build social housing over the five-year life of the bond, as well as complete 10-15 restorations of sub-standard properties.

Dan Hird, head of corporate finance at Triodos Bank, said: “We are pleased to be instrumental in the roll-out of the Together model to Scotland and confident the high-calibre management team and board will make a success of it.

“We believe the investment will appeal to charitable trusts, foundations, housing associations, corporates and other socially motivated individual investors who want to be part of the solution to breaking the cycle of re-offending in a sustainable manner.”

Official figures show that 30.7 per cent of those released from prison in Glasgow are reconvicted within a year and almost a quarter (24 per cent) of the Glasgow population report being the victim of a crime each year compared with the national average of 16 per cent.

Barry Mochan, chief executive officer Glasgow Together, said: “I am delighted to be part of the Together expansion. Glasgow Together offers a unique social investment opportunity by giving ex-offenders the training, skills and employment they need to help turn their lives around, through a sustainable commercial business model that can pay investors a return on their capital.”

Glasgow Together is a community interest company (CIC) that has a commercially sustainable business model involving building affordable housing and restoring sub-standard homes, engaging ex-offenders in the construction and refurbishment work.

Once the properties are complete they are then sold and the original capital, plus any profits, re-invested back into the business to finance further property purchases and further job 
creation.

Glasgow Together is the roll-out of the award winning social enterprises Bristol Together, established in 2011, and Midlands Together.

These social enterprises have directly employed approximately 70 ex-offenders to date. Midlands Together has been trading for 18 months and so far none of the ex-offenders have re-offended, saving the public purse an estimated £250,000, based on Ministry of Justice custodial costs.

The five-year bond will pay investors 4 per cent gross per year - the minimum investment is set at £20,000.

However the risk is that these bonds are not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, so if Glasgow Together was to go bust investors would lose some or all of their money. Also, investors cannot access their capital during the five-year life of the bond.