South Lanarkshire Council makes ‘significant’ homelessness pledge

South Lanarkshire Council’s Housing Service has pledged to significantly reduce homelessness over the next five years.

That was the headline commitment outlined to councillors on the housing and technical resources committee yesterday as part of a wider report on work to mainstream equality and diversity across the service.

Alongside the aim to prevent and reduce homelessness in the coming years, members of the committee were also given a summary of housing and technical resources achievements in meeting the Scottish Government’s Equality Outcomes for 2017-2021.

These include:

  • Continued delivery of the council’s Home+ new build housing programme, providing accessible and adaptable new homes suitable for a variety of needs
  • Setting a target of eight per cent of new-build homes to be fully wheelchair accessible and meet the Housing for Varying Need standard
  • Continued delivery of the adaptations programme and Scheme of Assistance, allowing people to continue to live independently within their own homes without the need for rehousing or moving to a care setting
  • Continued involvement in the Refugee Resettlement Programme.

Councillor Josh Wilson, chair of the committee, said that this was achieved against the backdrop of the global pandemic. He added: “It’s widely recognised that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in our communities.

“The Resource saw this and quickly revised service delivery arrangements to support all customer groups, with a specific focus on mitigating the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on potentially vulnerable individuals and groups.

“The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic also saw a shift to virtual and remote service provision by the council. However, the continuation of critical services was key to ensuring that the most disadvantaged and vulnerable customers, including people experiencing homelessness, sheltered housing tenants, members of the Gypsy/Traveller community and people experiencing financial hardship, remained supported during the most unprecedented and challenging of times.”

The report further outlined how the council will move forward and re-prioritise the focus on equality and diversity to meet its aim of preventing and reducing homelessness for the four-year period from 2021 to 2025.

Councillor Wilson added: “Our work on this important issue needs to be both high-level and measurable, as we will report our progress to the Scottish Government at two-yearly intervals.

“To this end we have committed to a number of actions including increasing the number of affordable homes for rent, developing, and implementing a housing options framework for young people, working with the Scottish Prison Service to implement Sustainable Housing on Release for Everyone (SHORE) standards and expanding the Rent Deposit Scheme to help meet housing needs in the private rented sector.

“This plan is both ambitious and far-reaching, but we are confident that by working together with partners and colleagues across the council we can, and will, make a significant difference to the lives of some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in our communities.”

The report to the committee also laid out the Resource’s key progress during 2020/21 in those areas which meet the aims of equality and diversity legislation.

Councillors welcomed the updates which include:

  • 339 additional affordable homes for social rent delivered with the target of fully wheelchair accessible homes within the programme being met
  • 721 homes adapted to support people with health conditions or disabilities to continue to live independently in their own homes
  • Continued support and development of housing pathways for people experiencing domestic abuse and for care experienced young people
  • Supporting digital inclusion by securing 68 digital devices through the Connecting Scotland fund to allow some of the most vulnerable and isolated to get online
  • New heating systems - funded through the Scottish Government’s Additional Capital and Decarbonisation funds - installed at both Gypsy/Traveller sites in South Lanarkshire.
  • Resettling of 51 Syrian families across the council area.

Councillor Wilson concluded: “I am proud of, and delighted by, the work the Resource has achieved over the last year, particularly with the significant challenges posed by the pandemic.

“The commitment to equality and diversity, to supporting the most vulnerable and disadvantaged, has been a constant and has evolved and changed to make sure colleagues across the Resource could be there for the many who needed their support during these unprecedented times.

“I warmly welcome this update report and commend all who have helped to achieve these outcomes, as we continue to plan and adapt our services to the needs of our ever-changing society.”

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