Fife Council ‘on brink of housing emergency declaration’ amid record homelessness
Councillors in Fife have warned that they will have no choice but to become the fourth Scottish local authority to declare a housing emergency unless the council receives urgent financial support.
Homelessness in the region has reached record levels following a 7% increase in 2022-23. More than 1,900 households are currently classed as homeless and waiting for tenancies, while 1,000 families, including 380 children, are living in temporary accommodation.
Furthermore, the Scottish Government’s funding cut for new affordable housing means Fife’s pledge to build hundreds of new council homes is now at risk.
Last year, Argyll and Bute, Edinburgh and Glasgow councils all declared housing emergencies in their respective regions. Edinburgh has since published a draft Housing Emergency Action Plan to begin to address its concerns while Argyll and Bute held a Housing Emergency Summit to bring partners together to pledge commitments aimed at increasing supply.
Fife Council has agreed a range of actions to prevent people from becoming homeless, including “flipping” 100 temporary tenancies into permanent homes and persuading private landlords to lease to the council.
Housing spokesperson Judy Hamilton accused the Scottish Government of “pulling the rug out” from under its housing programme partners, which includes councils, developers and housing associations.
The councillor said: “Incredibly, the Scottish Government has made a choice to reduce provision of new houses to respond to increasing homelessness in Scotland.
“This action undermines our programme and opportunity to build out of this crisis.
“And it condemns more homeless people to live longer in temporary accommodation.”
Ms Hamilton is now seeking an urgent meeting with the housing minister.
She added: “The cuts, as proposed, bring us to the brink of a housing emergency.”
Council leader David Ross has agreed to write to the first minister, the prime minister and the leaders of all political parties at Holyrood for help.
Last year, Fife Council approved a £151m plan to build 1,250 new houses to help deal with the record homelessness levels in the region.
The proposal sought to create hundreds of new council and housing association homes across the kingdom over the next five years.