Council needs to tackle housing

Homelessness in Fife is on the increase over the last three years.  Picture posed by model.
Homelessness in Fife is on the increase over the last three years. Picture posed by model.

FIFE needs to do more to hit housing targets, a leading charity has said.

While Fife Council has made progress in changing procedures to hit homeless targets, Shelter Scotland has said the local authority must do more as new reforms are set to come in next year and homeless numbers in the Kingdom continue to rise.

Fife Council is pinning its hopes on an early intervention scheme - Prevention First - which is due to be rolled out across the Kingdom in January - without it, bosses have said numbers could become out of control.

In 2008/9, 2119 people in Fife were homeless - that number has risen to 50 per cent more in just three years - 3164 - in 2010/11.

Fife currently has the third largest number of homeless people in Scotland, handling 4500 applications this year.

The increasing numbers come when Fife Council is under pressure to change procedures for a Scottish Government reform which will see priority need, currently given to those with children, the elderly or ill, scrapped.

John Mills, service manager for housing, said: “As of December 31 next year we will no longer be assessing whether people are priority homeless - everybody will be priority.

“If we go on having 4500 applications a year we are going to struggle. And that’s not just single people - it’s households with children.

“The Prevention First scheme - it’s about giving people information and intervention before they become homeless.

“We want to make sure people have a fair chance. If people on the housing lists believe there’s no other way but to claim homelessess that’s self defeating.

“If we can decrease the numbers of homeless people in years to come by using early intervention then we can even up the opportunities between those who are homeless and those on waiting lists.”

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “Fife Council has made some progress but there is still more to do as it works towards the 2012 homelessness commitment.

“We know times are tough and local authorities are under increasing pressure, but meeting the 2012 commitment is not a choice, it’s a legislative requirement that cannot be shirked from.”