The recently elected SNP Administration of Falkirk Council are seeking to bring forward a phased package of measures to ease the pressures on vulnerable groups of home owners who are unable to fully fund their share of improvement works.
Despite the fact the council produces a three year rolling programme there are examples of owners being notified that they face crippling bills, often in five figures only weeks before work is due to commence at their homes leaving little time for exploring all options.
SNP members have been critical for some time on the manner in which many owner occupiers were treated by the council. In particular, elderly people who have no ability to raise cash and many young couples who are already over extended are left with impossible choices
SNP Spokesperson, Cllr Gordon Hughes, added,
“It is in the interests of both council tenants and owners for there to be maximum consultation and a clear timetable that allows for all options being considered before a contract is entered into”.
“We want to see owners being involved in the preparation much earlier than is currently the case. The law states all involved, including private owners should have the opportunity to seek advice yet there is often too little or even no time to seek that advice.”
“It is obvious that discussing the fact a programme of improvement will happen in two to three years rather than two to three weeks or, even months has to benefit those who are facing the massive bills with no ability to pay.”
As well as seeking a full review of the Schedule of Assistance the SNP have also asked council officers to re-introduce and extend the initiative they brought to the table in 2006 for a deferred payment scheme.
At the time the residents of Falkirk’s multi storey flats faced massive bills for upgrading works. The council offered the option of entering into an agreement to defer the value of the improvements to the future sale of the property. The SNP want that initiative reintroduced and extended to meet the needs of other elderly people.
Cllr Hughes said,
“There is no doubt that many elderly residents find themselves in a very stressful position due to no other reason than not being able to meet the demands for settlement made by the council.”
“We are determined to act to seek to assist these groups and have taken the first step in addressing this concerning position”