ALMOST half-a-million pounds will go towards upgrading five blocks of flats in Saltcoats previously earmarked for demolition to allow the accommodation of Ukrainian refugees.

North Ayrshire Council (NAC) has been awarded funding through the Scottish Government’s Ukraine Longer-Term Resettlement Fund to refurbish the properties to be used on an interim basis by people who have fled the conflict in Ukraine.

The £50 million funding package has been made available to local authorities and registered social landlords to bring properties back into use that would otherwise not be available to let.

NAC's award of £486,000 will allow five blocks of three-storey flats at Glebe Place – previously earmarked for demolition – to be upgraded and brought back into use for a period of three years after which they will be reassessed as part of the council’s new build housing programme.

Council leader Marie Burns said: “We have welcomed more than 200 Ukrainians to North Ayrshire and are ready to welcome more in the coming weeks and months.

“With funding now secured from the Scottish Government, we are looking to begin improvement works within the next few weeks.

“While there is understandable uncertainty for anyone arriving here from Ukraine, it’s important that they feel secure and supported – having that secure tenancy will help.

"We want them to feel like North Ayrshire is a home away from home.”

Minister with special responsibility for refugees from Ukraine, Neil Gray, said: “Scotland continues to stand with the rest of the UK, Europe and the world, in condemnation of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

"Since the conflict began, more than 19,000 people with a Scottish sponsor have arrived, representing 20 per cent of all UK arrivals - the most per head of any of the four nations.

“This fund is going to help us meet the housing needs of displaced people from Ukraine by providing them with longer-term, sustainable accommodation.

"I want to thank North Ayrshire Council for their creativity in finding local solutions that boost the overall supply of homes at a time when they are needed most.

“This week, I have written to local authorities and social landlord representatives across the country to encourage them to look at their current housing supply and identify unused accommodation so that we can increase the supply of available accommodation and provide people from Ukraine with safe and secure homes for their time here.”