Homeless applications increase in East Renfrewshire

The rise in homeless applicants for council housing lets is piling pressure on a “strained service”, a report claims.

Figures revealed in a report on East Renfrewshire Council’s updated housing management plan show 58 per cent of all housing lets were allocated to homeless people in 2017/18.

This is up from 18 per cent in 2001/02 and 36 per cent in 2006/07. Last year, 134 properties were let to homeless people, compared to 55 in 2001/02.

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The Council’s report stated: “The impact of the abolition of priority need for homeless people has placed huge pressure on an already strained service.

“The council has experienced an increase in homeless applications at a time when homeless presentations are reducing nationally.

“The proportion of homeless applicants from Eastwood has steadily increased reflecting the changing economic climate with presentations from people unable to sustain their home or employment.”

Homeless people and those awarded ‘special case status’ due to complex housing and support needs are prioritised for re-housing.

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But the report says low numbers of one bedroom homes mean more than 30 people have been living in temporary accommodation, waiting for somewhere suitable to come available.

According to the management plan, benefit changes and the roll-out of Universal Credit could also have a negative impact on housing in East Renfrewshire.

It states that the new benefit may jeopardise the Council’s ability to increase investment in housing stock due to rent arrears.

In Eastwood, there is high demand for “limited” smaller, one-bed properties.

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“This demand is partly as a result of relatively recent welfare benefit changes (bedroom tax), despite mitigation of the effect of this by the Scottish Government,” the report states.

“Any changes to this legislation, which are expected in the medium term once further welfare powers are devolved to Scotland, will have an effect, and may reduce, this demand for one bedroom dwellings.”

In February, East Renfrewshire Council chiefs had to approve £50,000 to cover a shortfall in funding from the Scottish Welfare Fund, following a rise in calls for help from vulnerable people.

This was partly blamed on the roll-out of Universal Credit in September, which has increased the number of people passing low income assessments and therefore meeting welfare fund criteria.

The controversial benefit replaces six other benefits with a single monthly payment.