EDC ‘behind’ on homeless pledge

MUST do better - that’s the verdict a campaigning charity has given to East Dunbartonshire’s efforts to eradicate homelessness

Shelter has said the authority has made some progress but must do more to prepare to deliver Scotland’s historic reforms to give every homeless person the right to a home from 2012.

The Scottish Government’s latest statistics reveal that East Dunbartonshire Council (EDC) has a long way to go, despite warnings last year that it had more to do.

Shelter Scotland says the council must do more if it’s to be fully prepared, including assessing more people as priority need and allocating permanent housing.

The reform to Scotland’s homelessness legislation will see an end to current system where only those people deemed to be in ‘priority need’ have the right to a home and will extend the right to a home to single homeless people and couples without children.

For the last eight years Scotland’s 32 local authorities have been preparing for the changes.

East Dunbartonshire is classified as one of eight local authorities which have made some progress but have more to do.

Graeme Brown of Shelter Scotland said: “We know times are tough and local authorities are under pressure, but meeting the 2012 commitment is not a choice, it’s a legislative requirement that cannot be shirked from.

“With just over a year to go until December 31 2012, those councils who are failing to deliver need to take urgent action to meet their responsibilities or Scottish ministers should intervene to make it happen.

“We want everyone in Scotland to have the right to a home and the real chance of actually living in one. The challenge remains to ensure there are enough decent affordable houses in Scotland for people to live in.

“That’s why politicians must prioritise building more houses to end the wait for 3,477 households stuck on waiting lists across East Dunbartonshire.”

Kenny Simpson, Head of Housing and Communities at EDC, said: “The council is in full agreement with Shelter from the point of view that we want everyone in East Dunbartonshire to have the right to a home.

“We are keen to reduce homelessness and had Shelter spoken to the council about the 2012 target, we could have advised them that the council remains on track to be compliant.

“We achieved the 2009 Government target and plans are already in place to achieve the 2012 target. The council is already involved in council house building but the cuts in housing association grant funding mean that we will still have a shortage of permanent homes in this area.”