ASSURANCE SOUGHT FOR CASH FOR NEW SOCIAL HOUSING

By Bill Heaney

The Labour Party wants to ensure that not having a long-term plan for social housing delivery in West Dunbartonshire does not jeopardise the local housing strategy currently in place for five years until 2022.

And that the SNP administration sets aside enough money to build more social housing up to 2022 and beyond.

Cllr David McBride said the Scottish Government’s target is to deliver 50,000 affordable homes over five years.

Callum Chomczuk, Director of CIH Scotland said: “While we are pleased that the Scottish Government’s commitment to affordable housing supply is providing good quality homes across the whole of Scotland, we have deep concerns about future funding arrangements.

“The 50,000 homes target represented a significant increase in funding for new homes and as we can see from the figures, it has taken the sector several years to build up the capacity to deliver homes in the volume that we need.

“We have had no indication of what funding levels will be after next year and there’s a danger that social landlords will simply have to stop building.

“Skilled staff will leave the sector and we will end up back where we started.

“The 50,000 homes target is just beginning to make up for loss of affordable homes through right to buy and planned demolitions of old stock that was no longer fit for purpose.

“If we are serious about increasing affordable housing in Scotland, to end homelessness, improve health and well-being and reduce poverty and inequality, we need a long-term plan for delivery backed by funding.”

Stewart, McBride, Bollan and McColl, in the sun shades.

Cllr McBride said the Council should take note of these “serious concerns” and called on Cllr Jonathan McColl meet with Kevin Stewart, The Minister for Local Government, Housing & Planning.

He said: “The purpose of this meeting is to ensure West Dunbartonshire’s Local Housing Strategy which was approved in 2017 for the years 2017-2022 is not jeopardised by not having a long-term plan for housing delivery; and to set funding needed to build more new social housing across West Dunbartonshire now and post-2022.”

The Council agreed the motion, although Community Party councillor Jim Bollan said he was “extremely disappointed with the new Integrated Housing Management System which cost a minimum of £3m to introduce but has proved to be not fit for purpose already as the system can’t generate a points letter for applicants to advise where they are on the waiting list for a Council House.

“Councillors also cannot be given a points letter to advise their Constituents how to maximise their points.

“This is basic written information which applicants have a right to but is not available from the new system.

“Shambles comes to mind with prospective tenants’ basic needs not being considered.”

Cllr Bollan said the “sham” SNP consultation on what survey on what Departmental Budgets to cut next year were exposed again with the unemployed, council tenants and those with a disability under-represented in the returns from the flawed questionnaire which once again had no option to support a No Cuts Budget.

He added: “There was also contradictions in the responses. On page 80 of the report Arts & Heritage were given a low priority for funding by residents but on page 79 residents said libraries and heritage needed more funding?

“The questionnaire also came back to bite the SNP on the bum as on page 80 residents said ‘in the main, comments focus on the need to stop making Service Cuts’ which is the advice the Community Party will be promoting when WDC set the budget for 2020/2021.”

Cllr Bollan also made the point that the Council, which has banned and boycotted The Democrat, is becoming less and less democratic by the day.

He said: “The inability of some senior officers to answer basic questions from councillors throughout meetings is extremely worrying and undemocratic.

“It also questions how open and transparent WDC is as a supposedly democratic and accountable organisation.

“I was actually embarrassed for some of the officers as there was little or no practical assistance offered from any of the SNP administration, who sat silent and looked very glum.

“These are worrying times for democracy and accountability on the Council.”


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