Fourth Scottish council declares housing emergency

Fife joins Argyll and Bute, Edinburgh and Glasgow who have all previously declared housing emergencies.

Fife declares housing emergency due to ‘unprecedented pressures’ iStock

A fourth local authority in Scotland has declared a housing emergency.

Fife Council representatives voted in favour of a motion at its meeting on Thursday, noting “with great concern” the “extreme pressures” in housing and homelessness services across the area.

The local authority joins Argyll and Bute, Edinburgh and Glasgow who have all previously declared housing emergencies.

Councillor Judy Hamilton, spokesperson for housing, said the local authority is facing unprecedented pressure on its housing and homelessness services.

She said: “We have worked very hard in recent months to avert this emergency, making sure tenants are in the right house for them and reviewing processes to turn houses around quickly so they don’t lie empty between tenancies.

“Despite this, Fife did not receive any of the £2m revenue funding for temporary accommodation announced by the Scottish Government prior to December 2023.”

The declaration comes after it was revealed there has been a 7% increase in homelessness presentations in the region this year.

The council recently agreed a three-year plan to tackle homelessness which highlighted the need for an estimated £67.3m to help the escalating number of families without permanent housing.

Cllr Hamilton continued: “We have written to the UK Government ahead of their budget; we have written to the Scottish Government, and I have met with the housing minister to highlight that we are in a difficult situation in Fife, and call upon them for assistance.

“Despite giving ourselves the best chance, we now have no choice but to declare that we are in housing emergency. The pressure on our services is relentless.”

Fife council has also escalated concerns through Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (CoSLA), Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE) and the Association of Local Authority Chief Housing Officers (ALACHO).

The government has set a target of building 110,000 affordable homes by 2032.

“The biggest contributor to solving homelessness is to continue to build new social housing”, Hamilton added.

“It is against this backdrop, the Scottish Government has cut 26% to the support for our Affordable Housing Programme. This is extremely concerning and will have a negative impact on the number of new affordable houses the council and the Fife Housing Association Alliance can provide to support homelessness needs.

“Since 2012, we have had one of the largest social house-building programmes in Scotland and even the UK, delivering 7400 houses.

“We have committed to building a further 1250 Council houses in Fife over the next five years, as part of the Affordable Housing Programme. Our ability to keep building is now compromised.”

The announcement comes as plans to build 203 affordable homes across Fife were confirmed to be terminated by the council.

Construction at sites in Lochore, Lumphinnans, Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy stopped in December 2023 and as of Thursday, the council confirmed it has secured control of the sites.

Work to build 97 homes on Lochgelly Road in Lumphinnans are affected, while a site in New Flockhouse in Lochore is planned for 51 properties.

45 properties are to be built on the site of the former Bellyeoman depot in Dunfermline and ten properties are to be built on Fair Isle Road in Kirkcaldy.

The council said it will move on to the next stage of working with construction partners to complete the building of the new houses.

Scottish Conservative shadow housing secretary, Miles Briggs MSP said: “With yet another council declaring a housing emergency, SNP-Green ministers cannot keep denying reality.

“They have failed to get a grip on this situation for too long and last month shamefully slashed the housing budget by almost £200m, while also short-changing our councils who are unable to give people the housing they need.

“Homelessness levels have soared as a result and a record number of children are living in temporary accommodation.

“Last month, we launched our plans to bring empty properties across Scotland back into use and deliver permanent homes.

“With more councils likely to follow in Fife’s footsteps, SNP-Green ministers must finally declare a national housing emergency without delay.”

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code
Posted in