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East Lothian sees rise in homeless

September 24 2008

East Lothian Council has agreed to approach house-builders in the county to further its affordable housing programme during the credit crunch, at a time when homelessness presentations from April to June are at a seven-year high in the county.

Compared with the same period of April to June 2007/2008, homelessness presentations in East Lothian have risen by 13% to 327 – their highest quarter one level in the past seven years. This also represents the highest growth in a single quarter for three years.

It is estimated that house-building output Scotland is likely to decrease by 50% by 2009, as a result of the current economic downturn. This prediction comes at a time when the Scottish Government has reiterated its long-term goal to increase the supply of affordable housing from about 24,000 to 35,000 homes per year.
East Lothian Council has agreed to approach house-builders working in the county to explore opportunities to acquire land or purchase part- or fully-completed units. At the same time, the Council will also work with the Scottish Government and Registered Social Landlord (RSL) partners to identify projects that could receive additional funding through the Government’s £100 million Affordable Housing Investment Programme. The decision was taken at a meeting of East Lothian Council held on September 24.

Cabinet member for Housing and Community Services, Councillor Stuart Currie, said: “The impact of the credit crunch is being felt across the country and in every industry, and it’s important that we monitor the impact in our area. We don’t want to see pockets of land that are ripe for development lying dormant or half-finished houses awaiting an upturn in the economy when these could be better used now by the Council to provide affordable housing for hardworking families in East Lothian.
“Our homelessness presentations from April to June 2008 are at their highest level for seven years, which makes continuing with our affordable housing programme even more pressing. We are committed to working with all parties to find new and innovative ways to allow this to happen in this uncertain time.”

East Lothian Council has approximately 8,100 properties, having lost 50% of its housing stock under Right to Buy legislation. With the second lowest level of rents in Scotland and turnover of only 400 properties each year, there are around 6,500 people on its housing list.

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