Tory conference

Ross plots National College and rent-to-own plan

Douglas Ross: help for those who have been ‘forgotten’ (picL: Terry Murden)

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross will today outline a plan to give all adults across Scotland access to online education and help tenants get a foot on the housing ladder.

In his keynote speech to the UK Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham he will set out a proposal for a National College of Scotland and deliver a Rent to Own scheme.

He will claim that large parts of Scotland- especially rural and island communities- have been forgotten by SNP leader and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s government. 

The National College is designed to break down the barriers that geography and life circumstances can create for adults wishing to access higher education. 

Specialising in remote teaching, the National College would be an umbrella body ensuring Scotland’s colleges and universities offer a wide range of online courses so that adults can gain new qualifications while still holding down a full-time job. 

Under the Rent to Own plan, tenants would pay market rent for a new-build property from a landlord – who would have to sign up to the scheme – for five consecutive years, after which the tenant could apply to buy it.  

To help them do so, the government would provide 25% of the rent paid during the tenancy to go towards their deposit. 

Today we continue to show that on education, economic development, housing and so many other areas the Scottish Conservatives that we are Scotland’s Real Alternative to this failing SNP Government,” Mr Ross will say. 

“That we have the positive ideas and policies to take all of Scotland forward and deliver opportunity and a fair deal to every part of our country.

“In the SNP’s Scotland where you live has a huge impact on the quality of life you will have. 

“Wages in Moray are nearly half of what people in East Renfrewshire earn, pupils in East Renfrewshire are around two times more likely to get a top grade in their Highers than those in Angus- and the life expectancy of people in Glasgow is six years lower than people in East Dunbartonshire.”

He will add: “The National College of Scotland would be a partnership of Scotland’s college and university sector to deliver virtual, modular courses designed to help people learn around their busy schedules. 

“Courses could also be sponsored by employers to give students access to future careers and businesses a workforce with the skills they need. 

“Alongside our guarantee of training funding, through our Right to Retrain plan, this would be transformative in ensuring that no matter where you live in Scotland, or what your personal circumstances you can study towards qualifications that will help you to seize new opportunities.” 

On the Rent to Own scheme, which emulates a similar scheme that operated in Wales, Mr Ross will say: “The Scottish Conservatives want to help individuals and families to save up the funding they need for a deposit, which – when stuck with rent and other bills – can be too much of a stretch for many. 

“And, so, the Scottish Conservatives would introduce a Rent to Own model. 

“This would see renters being given back a quarter of their rent by the Government to help them to purchase the property that they live in. 

“This would allow buyers to save up for a home through simply paying their rent. 

“This could be a step change in helping families who are stuck in rented accommodation and unable to afford the extra that they need to save each month to put down a deposit.” 

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