Housing emergency declared by South Lanarkshire Council

Housing emergency declared by South Lanarkshire Council

Housing emergency declared by South Lanarkshire Council

Housing emergency declared by South Lanarkshire Council


The number of homeless households in the authority area needing urgent assistance has doubled

South Lanarkshire Council has declared a housing emergency after seeing soaring numbers of people needing assistance due to homelessness – including a doubling of the backlog of “urgent need” households needing accommodation.

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The authority is now calling for funding from the Scottish and UK governments to reverse cuts to the affordable housing supply programme budget to ensure the council can deliver its planned 1300 new homes, as well as further assistance to manage “out of area” homelessness presentations and “need arising from humanitarian and asylum programmes”.

Housing committee chair Davie McLachlan, who brought the motion to this week’s council meeting, called the declaration “a plea for help” amid “rocketing levels of homelessness” and said: “There are real human consequences to the housing crisis.”

South Lanarkshire now becomes the eighth local authority in Scotland to declare a housing emergency, with councillors unanimously noting that the area has seen a 38 per cent rise in the number of people recorded by the council as homeless and a 28 per cent increase in the number of people applying for assistance.

Members asked both governments to take action and provide increased support, agreeing that while South Lanarkshire “remains a top-performing local authority in addressing homelessness applications, [it] is experiencing significant pressures” due to the rising level of need.

Hamilton North & East representative Councillor McLachlan said staff are “working flat out at the coalface of this crisis” and said: “Our housing officials and partners are powering ahead with work to prevent homelessness and mitigate the impact of those emergencies, but we cannot do this alone.

“We will do everything we can locally and we will always challenge ourselves to do better, but the position local government has been placed in is unsustainable and we need our governments to work together to tackle the cost of living crisis that makes rents and mortgages unaffordable.

“In particular, we need the SNP government to reverse their appalling cuts to affordable housing – it’s baffling that the SNP have cut budgets so much when the country is gripped by a homelessness crisis, and we will not realise our ambition to secure 1300 more council homes if our budgets are attacked and undermined.”

Council leader Joe Fagan added: “This is not a gesture – this is declaring an emergency because of the pressure we’re seeing across our services. The issue is the sheer level of demand.”

All councillors voted to declare a housing emergency, with the SNP group making additional calls for the development of a local action plan, and for the reversal of Westminster capital budget cuts to allow for implementation of government plans to deliver 110,000 affordable homes in the “Scotland 2040” project.

Group housing spokesperson Councillor Andrea Cowan said: “There’s absolutely no question that Scotland is experiencing a housing emergency; South Lanarkshire has an excellent record in dealing with homelessness but an emergency action plan is what the regulator would expect from us and sends a message that homelessness is a priority for our council.”

Councillor McLachlan said: “We already have a plan – we need funding to put it into practice. Housing officials have twice reported on the growing number of interventions the council is making to address homelessness and our priority is declaring an emergency that will make government stand up and take notice.”

The Scottish Parliament also last month declared a housing emergency following a debate at Holyrood.

Social justice secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville called it “one of the defining issues of a generation” and said: “Too many people in Scotland are struggling to make ends meet due to housing costs or struggling to find suitable housing at all.

“We will continue to do everything we can with the powers at our disposal to make progress – but truly tackling the housing emergency will rely on a joint approach between UK, Scottish and local government.”



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