HOMELESS presentation rates remain relatively high in the Wee County with a “clear need” to increase affordable housing, councillors will hear at a meeting this week.

Clackmannanshire Council continues to have the third highest rate of homeless applications by population in Scotland according to the latest statistics available, the Audit and Scrutiny Committee will be told on Thursday, April 18.

Documents to be tabled highlight that homelessness is a growing challenge for all local authorities in Scotland, “largely due to issues such as the high cost of living, and pressures on the housing system nationally in relation to availability, accessibility and affordability of housing”.

The Wee County has had some of the highest presentation rates since statistics began in 2002, having the highest rate in Scotland at more than double the national average in the period 2004-06.

The number of applications has dropped over the years, however, from a peak of 1,157 in 2005-06 to a low of 459 in 2016-17.

In 2022-23, the local authority has received 593 applications and a similar figure of 589 have been received from April 1 last year to March 1 in 2024.

Council papers said: “There are many variables at play and it is difficult to determine why application rates are higher in Clackmannanshire.

“Comparisons between different authority areas are not always possible given differing recording and intake methodologies rather than the stated reason for the homeless application.

“Many areas with pockets of deprivation and insufficient affordable housing, like Clackmannanshire, suffer from high levels of homelessness but Clackmannanshire remains at the high end of the scale.

“Clackmannanshire Council’s Homeless Service has been, and remains, particularly accessible and we are confident that the figures collected in Clackmannanshire are accurate and that all homeless applicants are correctly identified and appropriately recorded.”

The most common reasons for homelessness in the Wee County are “asked to leave”, which represents around a quarter of cases, and non-violent relationship breakdowns are disputes within the household, which included 27 per cent of cases in 2022-23.

The relatively high volume of applications “does place a strain on the authority with respect to the provision of temporary accommodation” documents went on to say.

In Clacks, this is mitigated to some extent with an above average performance in the time taken to resolve applications, when compared against the national average.

A 2019 analysis of the local authority's approach to homelessness accommodation provision determined that the council's needs based allocation policy “played a positive part in reducing homelessness by offering an alternate route to accommodation for people with a range of housing needs”.

The evidence suggested that the housing system “was working well but suffered from a significant shortage of affordable housing” and “little has changed” since then.

Council papers added: “The above finding creates a dilemma; with insufficient permanent accommodation to meet needs the demand for temporary accommodation grows.

“Removing existing stock to increase the number of homeless accommodation units only exacerbates the shortage of permanent accommodation.”

Documents to be tabled went on to add that there is a “clear need to increase the numbers of affordable housing units within Clackmannanshire”.

Adding to pressures is the recent revelations that reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) was found in a small proportion of housing stock, as reported by the Advertiser.

Council papers added that “the temporary re-location of our gypsy travelling community from Westhaugh to within our domestic housing stock and the necessity to find suitable accommodation for refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine have all added increased pressure on housing supply at a time when it is in high demand”.

And the removal of the rent cap in the private sector may lead to more tenants becoming homeless while private landlords might leave the market if acceptable financial returns cannot be achieved.

Councillors will have a chance to comment on and challenge the report at Thursday's meeting.