Changes afoot for council housing

Fife Council is focusing on improving housing issues in the coming year by aiming to build new council homes and improving existing property stocks.

By March the council will have built 98 new homes, with a further 91 to be completed during 2012,

The region will see the standard of the council’s existing homes improved by a £63.13 million investment programme, 20 per cent more than in previous years, and more than any other Scottish local authority,

Councillor Brian Goodall, chair of the housing and communities committee, said: “The council has promised to increase access to housing for Fifers and has achieved that in a number of ways.

“Spending record levels on existing council homes with a range of upgrading works means they are made more attractive and appealing and help to reduce ongoing repair costs, while giving people the best accommodation possible. It will also make them more affordable and energy efficient for our tenants to live in because of measures like improved insulation.

“In addition, the council is building new homes across Fife for the first time in 20 years, supplementing its own multi-million pound investment with Scottish Government cash to make money go even further. “These new build properties will also be affordable and energy efficient for tenants to live in thanks to features including solar hot water panels. In addition, all new build properties have an enhanced specification in an attempt to further prevent accidents for tenants including fire detection and alarm systems, smoke alarms, lockable cupboards and domestic sprinkler systems.”

The council also recently agreed to increase the use of shared flats for homeless people. This means in some temporary accommodation single people aged 25 and over will share with another person. By doing this the current expensive practice of using B&Bs will be reduced by half and the council will provide better living conditions for those in need.

It also means the council can move closer to achieving the important national Homelessness 2012 target.

The council’s allocations policy has also been reviewed and now priority homeless households won’t be offered as many properties as in the past.

By making this change, the council said it can reduce waiting times and redirect time and money to target other areas like reducing rent arrears, and continuing to improve the time taken to get empty properties back into use, reducing rent loss and housing people faster.