Published 01 May 2024

A housing emergency has been declared in West Dunbartonshire amid unprecedented pressures on the ability to meet the needs of those in social housing or seeking a Council property.

Councillor Gurpreet Singh Johal, who is the Convener of Housing and Communities, today made the declaration urging the Scottish Government to review the decision to cut the Affordable Housing Supply Programme allocation to West Dunbartonshire by 27% (£2.873m) for 2024/25.

Councillor Johal addressed a meeting of the Housing and Communities committee who had earlier heard of the positive work which has been ongoing within the area during the past year. This included the significant progress being made in reducing the number of empty homes and the construction of 133 new Council homes as well as 262 households being prevented from experiencing homelessness.

However he also advised that the Council found itself with no choice but to declare a housing emergency because of stark figures including over 5500 households on the Council’s housing waiting lists, 274 people living in temporary accommodation and over 1000 homeless assessments being carried out.

The motion received cross-party support and will now involve the Council engaging with both internal and external partners to map out a way forward.

The Convener will write to the Scottish Government to demand a review of the decision to significantly reduce the Affordable Housing Supply Programme allocation, severely impacting the delivery of new, much-needed homes in West Dunbartonshire.

Councillor Johal said: “It is devastating that the circumstances we find ourselves in mean that we now have to declare a housing emergency.

“Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the staff in our Housing department, our tenant representatives in the community and external partners, the reduction in funding for affordable housing along with pressures on meeting the needs of current tenants has given us no option.

“This decision has not been taken lightly but I sincerely hope that this can help lead us on the path of greater stability for everyone in our communities, especially those who are facing homelessness and unstable accommodation.”

Vice Convener of Housing, Councillor Hazel Sorrell, said: “I want to place on record my thanks for the dedication and effort which staff within the Housing department continue to put in to mitigate the impacts of external factors on our ability to provide safe, affordable homes for our citizens.

“We now find ourselves in a situation where we urgently require additional resources to help us deal with the pressures which have had an adverse impact on housing within our communities.”

West Dunbartonshire Council becomes the fifth local authority in Scotland to declare a housing emergency with neighbouring Argyll and Bute and Glasgow making similar declarations within the past year.