Concerns in Glasgow that social rents could become unaffordable
Concerns were expressed after Glasgow City Council approved its housing strategy
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Some social homes in Glasgow could become unaffordable, a councillor has warned, as the city approved its housing strategy for the next five years.
Councillor Elaine McDougall expressed fears over rents rising steeply due to community housing associations being gobbled up by bigger organisations. And the city’s housing leader admitted rising rents was not something they could control.
It came as Councillor Soryia Siddique got agreement for the council to establish an empty homes multi-agency working group involving Wheatley and other social landlords to help boost the supply of housing. The goals of the council’s new housing strategy for 2023 to 2028 include providing 6,500 affordable homes and the same number of private properties. The strategy was approved at the city administration committee last week.
Councillor Kenny McLean, SNP, said its vision is for “more affordable, accessible, safer, sustainable homes which support good health and thriving neighbourhoods across the city.”
He said the goal is also that homes “are well connected to jobs, education services and opportunities and contribute to Glasgow being an attractive place for people to live learn work and invest.”
Councillor McDougall raised fears about affordable housing becoming “unaffordable” amid a cost of living crisis.”
Raising issues over social housing rents, Councillor McDougall, Labour, said, “We have lost a number of community- based housing associations and a number of housing associations are taking over. Some of their rents are way above the Scottish average. Is the council taking note of this?
Councillor McLean, convenor for housing, said: “We are mindful of that situation and we have issued statements of support to the community based housing associations on that issue. I share your concerns on that.” He added, “Unfortunately we as a council don’t control that. “
There is currently a bid for Reidvale Housing Association to be taken over. Calling on a multi-agency group to be set up to tackle the problem of empty homes in the city going to waste, Labour councillor Siddique said: “We have empty homes. We don’t have enough social homes, we have homelessness on the increase and we are trying to do as much as we can as quickly as we can.”
Councillor McLean agreed to the set up of a multi-agency group after considering the request. The committee also decided to approve a reference being made in the housing strategy in relation to “an action plan for Glasgow’s Built Heritage, with specific reference to the Wheatley Group” following a request from councillor Siddique.
Councillor Martha Wardrop, Scottish Greens, pointed out social landlords could play a part in helping domestic abuse victims. She pointed out people impacted by domestic abuse can end up homeless.
Susanne Millar, chief officer of Glasgow’s Health and Social Care Partnership, confirmed the organisation is working with social landlords on the issue as part of a domestic abuse strategy.
Tory councillor Thomas Kerr pointed out how Glasgow’s planning applications process should be speeded up to accelerate house building. He said the council is the eighth longest in processing planning applications nationally and the fifth dearest in terms of cost.
Chair councillor Ricky Bell, SNP, recommended caution in comparing the large and “complex” local authority of Glasgow with smaller councils but agreed there should be a speedy process.
Councillor Kerr is to have discussions with Councillor McLean and an officer over the matter it was agreed. A major consultation has taken place on the housing strategy, which councillor McLean described as one of the most “successful.”