Published 02 March 2023

Tenants in West Dunbartonshire are to benefit from a new £50 million investment package that will improve living standards in thousands of homes across the area.

The funding, invested over the next five years, will maintain all current services that tenants receive, continue the New Build housing programme and deliver capital investment in existing homes, including a drive to eliminate damp and mould.

A tenant priority budget – which allows tenants to direct spend on community improvements – of £800,000 will also be retained.

These improvements will be partially funded by a 5% rent increase – equating to an average rise of £4.22 per week – agreed by Elected Members at yesterday’s meeting of West Dunbartonshire Council.

Recognising the pressures of a rent rise amid the ongoing cost of living crisis, a fund of £565,000 has been set aside for direct financial assistance to support the most disadvantaged tenants over the course of the next financial year.

The increase will ensure the Council can drive forward a raft of improvements to existing stock, provide additional homes to meet demand and ensure comprehensive support is in place for any person who finds themselves at risk of becoming homeless.

The Council asked tenants to identify the priority areas where they would like to see the additional money spent with a range of options including energy efficiency measures; kitchen and bathroom renewals; window and door renewal; and environmental works.

The investment will also aid improvement in performance around voids to maximise Housing and Revenue Account (HRA) income alongside building additional new sustainable housing that is energy efficient and adaptable for tenants with medical needs.

A proportion of the investment will also be invested in the Council’s Buy Back programme to purchase additional housing on the local market to address identified need and increase choice for large families.

Councillor Gurpreet Singh Johal, Convener of the Council’s Housing and Communities Committee, said: “Our commitment is to provide quality homes that people want to live in and this significant investment will make a positive difference to the lives of tenants across West Dunbartonshire.

“We will consult closely with tenants and the West Dunbartonshire Tenant and Residents Association to ensure that the money is spent where it’s needed most.

“The 5% increase in rent still represents good value for money for tenants while also allowing us to improve living standards throughout our communities. 

“To put this in perspective, this extra investment will mean the delivery of new heating systems to over 1000 homes every year, an additional 350 kitchen replacements, 280 bathroom replacements and 260 extra window and door replacements.”

Vice Convener Hazel Sorrell added: “Over the past decade more than £82 million has been invested in the development and acquisition of safe, secure, warm, energy efficient and affordable new homes, as well as upgrades to existing stock.

“We are committed to continuing this progress with a range of initiatives which support increased demand for homelessness support, requests for larger homes and the additional needs of tenants.

“This significant further investment supports the Council’s plans to continue to deliver value-for-money services for our tenants – including a reactive repairs service and the rollout of a range of improvements and upgrades to homes.

“Each of these improvements will be of benefit to tenants, as well as enhancing communities for the good of West Dunbartonshire as a whole.”