Council ‘making positive progress’ on meeting housing needs

Argyll and Bute Council has made “solid and positive progress” in the first year of its new Local Housing Strategy, members of the authority were told on Thursday.

The first 12 months of the programme, which is aimed at ensuring that people have access to affordable, sufficient and suitable housing, were reviewed at a full council meeting in Lochgilphead on Thursday.

The five-year strategy, which runs until 2016, also aims to reduce homelessness, support independent living, improve the quality of housing and tackle fuel poverty.

Councillors were told of a 25 per cent reduction in the number of homeless applicants, while the number of households in bed and breakfast accommodation has fallen from 31 per month to just two in the course of the last year.

Ten empty private sector homes were brought back into effective use, while Thursday’s meeting was told that the target of 550 new affordable homes in the next five years “remains a realistic and achievable goal”.

The authority’s lead councillor for housing, George Freeman, said: “This is an encouraging first report card for the Local Housing Strategy which has made good progress against each of its objectives, all of which aim to improve access to suitable affordable housing in Argyll and Bute.

“There are a number of challenges to address but the council’s strategy is designed to evolve and adapt to these. It has been appraised by the Scottish Government and by fellow local authority representatives. Feedback has been positive and points out a number of strengths in our approach.

“We hope to build on the progress already made and ensure that people in Argyll and Bute have better access to affordable, sufficient and suitable housing.”