ARGYLL and Bute Council has made solid and positive progress in the first year of its new Local Housing Strategy.
Councillors met on Thursday 20 September to review the first annual monitoring report for the programme, which is aimed at ensuring that people have access to affordable, sufficient and suitable housing in Argyll and Bute.
The Local Housing Strategy for 2011 to 2016 is also focused on reducing homelessness, supporting independent living, improving the quality of housing and tackling fuel poverty.
In terms of homelessness, councillors noted that that excellent progress has been made, with the number of homeless applications significantly reduced. The Housing Options approach and other preventative measures have resulted in a 25 per cent reduction in homeless applicants. Ninety per cent of homeless households were assessed in priority need, and the council is on target to achieve 100 per cent in 2012. The number of households in bed and breakfast accommodation dropped from last year’s level of 31 per month to two per month.
Argyll and Bute Council successfully secured an additional £4.988 million for six new projects under the Scottish Government’s Investment and Innovation Fund in 2011. Three other new developments, in Islay, Iona and Ardfern, received approval for funding totalling £953,532 from the council’s Rural Housing Development Fund.
A sustained telecare programme and a restructured support service framework has contributed to increasing support for independent living. Special adaptations rose by 72 per cent from 342 in 2011 to 587.
The area also has a target of 550 new affordable homes in the next five years and this remains a realistic and achievable goal. Ten empty private sector homes were brought back into effective use.
Argyll and Bute Council’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.”