West Dunbartonshire Council meets SHQS target after £81m investment
The project, which is the largest scale housing investment in the council’s history, included replacing 1,700 bathrooms and 800 kitchens and upgrading hundreds of central heating systems. In addition council teams completed 7,300 electrical upgrades and improvements to 2,600 roofs and buildings.
The extensive work has improved the lives of thousands of residents by ensuring their homes are warm, dry and free from serious disrepair. It has also led to full compliance with the stringent Scottish Housing Quality Standards (SHQS) demanded by the Scottish Government in 2015.
This outcome represents a great turnaround for the council which only had 36 per cent of its homes meeting the standard in 2012. In June of that year councillors took the decision to retain council housing stock rather than consider transferring some of its properties to a social landlord, and gave the go-ahead to the major investment.
In addition to the drive to meet SHQS, the council embarked on a regeneration programme which demolished unpopular homes which would be inefficient to have been brought up to standard and successfully replaced them with the Council’s first new build homes in a generation.
Councillor David McBride, convener of housing and communities, said: “When the council took the decision in June 2012 to retain its stock, less than 40 per cent of its homes met the SHQS criteria. Now just three years later none of our stock fails the standard.
“The size of this project cannot be overstated. It was a huge task and one which required extensive efforts by hundreds of our staff. I’m delighted that we are now in this position today. This is a fantastic achievement for this council and I want to thank all of the staff involved.”
Councillor Lawrence O’Neill, vice-convener of housing and communities, added: “This investment is ultimately about improving the lives of our tenants. Retaining our homes was the best option for them and the best way of protecting council jobs and services. Our work has improved the appearance of our homes internally and externally but more importantly it has ensured all our tenants are living in houses which are warm, safe and dry.
“But the work doesn’t stop here. We shall be continuing our commitment to provide good quality housing for the people of West Dunbartonshire. We have approved an investment programme for the next five years which will see further funding and resources dedicated to housing to ensure that properties continue to comply with SHQS and will meet higher Energy Efficiency Standards by 2020.”
The Scottish Housing Quality Standard (SHQS) is the Scottish Government’s principal measure of quality in social housing for rent in Scotland. All social housing landlords were required to meet the SHQS by 31 March 2015.