Renfrewshire Council has increased its housing allocation target for the homeless from 49 to 55 per cent – a move that’s been applauded by elected members.

Senior officers have said the change was made to “reflect the ongoing demands and pressures” the local authority is facing as it tries to tackle the widespread issue.

Homeless applications have been on the rise in recent years and it’s considered “likely” a “significant increase” is on the cards in the current and next financial year.

That’s according to a report to the communities and housing policy board, which also confirmed the council’s intention to allocate 55 per cent of available properties to the statutory homeless group.

The decision prompted Councillor Colin McCulloch, Labour group housing spokesperson, to say the local authority had “put our money where our mouth is” in tackling homelessness.

Louise Feely, head of housing services, said: “The [housing] applicants are placed in one of five groups according to their circumstances and we set a target for a proportion of lets for each of the groups … We have increased the target for allocations to homeless applicants. We have increased that from 49 per cent to 55 per cent.

“This is to reflect the ongoing demands and pressures that we’re facing across the homelessness sector and the board has been updated on that recently, a couple of times.”

The target for lets to the homeless will be reviewed again in September and if any change is proposed, authorisation will be sought from the board at the end of October.

Councillor McCulloch, who represents Bishopton, Bridge of Weir and Langbank, said: “We’ve put our money where our mouth is in terms of homelessness.

“We’ve talked a lot about this at this board, the last couple of years in particular, and I think it’s a good balance struck here in terms of the allocations priorities.

“I think it’s a good flexible approach to look at it again in six months time … I wholly support this move.”

Within the group system, 41 per cent of lets went to statutory homeless applicants in 2022/23. This figure jumped to 57.1 per cent in the first six months of 2023/24.

Argyll and Bute, City of Edinburgh and Glasgow City councils have already declared housing emergencies amid an unrelenting cost-of-living crisis.

Councillor Iain McMillan, Labour group leader, who represents Johnstone South and Elderslie, reiterated his belief Renfrewshire is on the verge of adopting a similar stance.

He said: “I would certainly welcome the move to increase the percentage for people who are homeless. I think a board hardly goes by without us mentioning the issue of homelessness.

“It’s an ongoing issue and I’m not going to pretend to speak on behalf of all councillors but I’m sure councillors are getting it on a regular basis, the number of people that are coming to them that are homeless … I know we’ve not declared a housing crisis in Renfrewshire and I know some of our neighbouring authorities have but we’re gey close to it, I think, in my opinion.”

Renfrewshire is not currently at risk of “systemic failure” as some local authorities are, the council insisted in its report.

However, if homeless presentations continue to rise in the coming months, there is “little resilience left across the system”.

Councillor Emma Rodden, an SNP representative for Johnstone North and the surrounding villages, said: “Like my colleagues, I want to welcome the move to allocate more properties to those experiencing homelessness.”