ERC homeless policy criticised

EAST Renfrewshire council’s treatment of homeless people has been blasted as “unacceptable” by a leading charity.

This followed a report by the Scottish Housing Regulator which identified a “number of weaknesses” in the local authority’s housing services.

Graeme Brown, Director of Shelter Scotland, said: “The council’s lack of progress in addressing many of the weaknesses highlighted previously, such as the practice of housing homeless people and families in bed and breakfast accommodation, is unacceptable.

“It is crucial that the council steps up its performance in the areas identified in the report to ensure it can adequately meet the housing needs of people in East Renfrewshire”.

Lesley Kerr, acting head of inspection at SHR, said: “We found issues in ERC’s housing allocations and rent arrears processes.

“It also has a significant number of areas for improvement in its services to homeless people”.

However, the council insist the report will have a positive impact on its treatment of homeless people.

East Renfrewshire Council’s convenor for housing and construction services, councillor Danny Devlin, told The Extra: “We are keen to improve the housing service for the benefit of our customers. “We wish to put best practice and the customer at the heart of what we do and all of the matters raised by the Regulator have been useful to assist us to achieve this aim.

“We have taken the recommendations on board and have re-organised our services and staffing structure to ensure that the issues highlighted are addressed.

“We are therefore confident that the service we provide will continue to improve”.

However, there was some good news in relation to the council’s policy.

Mrs Kerr added: “We found ERC is achieving positive outcomes through nomination agreements with other social landlords.

“It has a good approach to monitoring its letting performance and has improved its performance in re-letting empty houses and it has significantly improved its gas safety testing”.

East Renfrewshire Council’s Assurance and Improvement Plan is published on Audit Scotland’s website.