Glasgow housing associations are facing “huge” challenges with tenant rent debts expected to rise.
The issues emerged as councillors discussed plans to sign a strategic agreement with the city’s biggest social landlord the Wheatley Group at a committee meeting.
Wheatley Group owns over 44,000 homes in the city, with the council transferring them over 20 years ago to the organisation – then called Glasgow Housing Association.
Welcoming the agreement, Councillor Soryia Siddique, Labour, asked about whether escalating costs and a backlog of repairs and maintenance are going to be an issue for the housing association.
A council officer told the meeting: “I think for all housing associations there are huge challenges coming. Their main income stream is from rents. Obviously the cost of living crisis is very difficult and I think most of them are anticipating an increase in rent arrears going forward and they have new standards to meet.”
She added: “I think really working together with the scale of Wheatley Group means we can look at innovative solutions and have the chance to do things better.”
She said: “It is for the benefit of the city at large and everyone within it. It is a positive step forward in terms of Wheatley Group committing to continue the good work they are doing around homelessness and new build programme.”
Speaking at the economy, housing, transport and regeneration city policy committee this week, councillor Siddique said: “There are a variety of empty historical buildings in Glasgow and sadly we see them going into disrepair.
“Just wondering how we can fast-track that and come back with an action plan especially as we have a lack of affordable housing and such a demand on housing. Bringing some of our heritage buildings back into use is something I think we should have a focus on.”
The officer said it is an “absolute focus” for the council’s draft new housing strategy, which has been undergoing consultation.
The official said the council is keen to work with Wheatley on options for repurposing property within the city centre.
Councillor Siddique asked for a “built heritage action plan.”
It was decided the housing strategy would refer to a built heritage action plan with reference to Wheatley with an annual update given.
It was also agreed that reference to the council’s climate plan would be made within the action plan to the strategic agreement after Scottish Greens councillor Anthony Carroll raised the issue.
The committee also agreed that further consideration would be given to working collaboratively with council and Wheatley venture City Building to increase the supply of affordable housing and accelerate the pace of new building.
Councillor Allan Casey, SNP, said the strategic agreement would be an obvious place to set out opportunities for City Building’s involvement to work on new builds.
The draft new strategic agreement will be considered for approval at a later date.
It aims that the organisations will work together on the following areas: ‘housing supply and regeneration; homelessness, health and social care; climate emergency and sustainability; tackling poverty and inequality and increasing opportunity for all; optimising outcomes from joint resources; and city strategic resilience.”
Councillor Kenny McLean, council convener for housing said: “The delivery of Glasgow’s housing strategy requires strong partnerships will all organisations in the sector, and given the importance of Wheatley Group in bringing affordable homes to the city, this strategic agreement is key to our aims.
“It is 20 years since the transfer of the council’s housing stock, so now is a good time to agree how best we can work together to bring more high-quality, energy-efficient and affordable homes to Glasgow that meet the needs of people in the city.”
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