A FRESH initiative to support Renfrewshire Council tenants struggling to pay their rent has been commended.

The tenant support fund launched in October last year with approximately 133 residents receiving payments so far.

With the policy in its first year, officers have confirmed they’re considering how to boost its publicity so it can reach more people.

The issue was raised by Councillor Colin McCulloch, Labour group housing spokesperson, at Tuesday’s communities and housing policy board.

The Bishopton, Bridge of Weir and Langbank representative said: “I wanted to applaud the work so far on the tenant support fund.

“The officers have told me roughly £28,000 has been spent so far supporting our most vulnerable tenants.

“What can we do to promote this fund more and hopefully help more tenants access it?

“I think the numbers are maybe lower than we might have expected, so really to promote that more and assist more people.”

Derek Murray, the council’s area housing manager, responded: “At this stage, the policy and the fund, as you know, is in its first year.

“What we did recently was we updated our written communication to tenants, any tenant in rent arrears is pointed to the fund.

“We also updated the website accordingly, where you go through the platform to make a payment for rent, so we’re trying to be quite smart and quite intuitive as to where the tenant would go.

“We’ve also actually facilitated two sessions with local authorities, who also run tenant support funds, to share best practice and to inform what we would look to do perhaps in the future.

“But we’re certainly looking at this moment in time to review how we’ve publicised the fund to the tenant base.”

Councillor McCulloch recently voiced concerns about the impact of the unrelenting cost-of-living crisis.

In January, he said the “continued grip of inflation” was eating into household incomes in a manner that was “unparalleled in modern times”.

At this week’s board, he asked if the council had a target number of tenants it would like to support through the fund.

Mr Murray explained approximately 133 tenants have received payments so far, while there have been 291 applications to date.

He added: “We reckon there’s around another 400 tenants who fit a profile.

“Moving forwards there’s further welfare reform changes coming, next financial year.

“We’re building intelligence on that at this moment in time, which will help us target and that’s the customer base we feel we want to speak to.”