MORE than half of West Dunbartonshire Council housing stock let out to homeless applicants went to those forced to flee their homes due to domestic abuse.

Council figures revealed of the 880 properties let out over the 2016/17 period, a total of 417 homes – 47 per cent – went to applicants registered as homeless.

And of those homeless applicants, 223 cases cited a “dispute within household: violent or abusive” as one of the reasons for becoming homeless.

The statistics cover all levels of abuse, not solely abuse stemming from a spouse or cohabiters.

The news comes as housing chiefs have pledged to continue tackling the homeless challenge in the area, among the plans include tackling poverty, inequality and providing services and assistance to fit the individual needs of homeless people.

Peter Barry, strategic lead for housing and employability within the council, admitted a major issue for the area’s housing officers remains domestic abuse – with West Dunbartonshire having one of the highest rates in the country for the crime – which often leads to homelessness.

Mr Barry said: “The high level of domestic abuse in this area leads to homelessness. If [homelessness] happens once or twice, it’s a reflection of the family circumstances. If people continually become homeless, it’s our fault.”

He said: “We need to be straight up and say we’re on an improvement journey. We’ve had some challenges over the last few years but I think we’re getting better week in, week out.”

But Mr Barry said the team were working to ensure the issue of homelessness across Clydebank and Dumbarton was resolved, including ensuring housing was built to a high quality standard.

He added: “This council has prioritised high standard council housing as a priority. [The housing] in the Brucehill area sets a design standard. Our aim is to produce about 5,000 council houses in the next five years.

“It creates a high quality housing design to encourage people to have a stake in the housing.”

The improvement journey includes plans to ensure the council offers accessible housing whereby residents can find “suitable options based on their own personal situation” and revising the approach to the allocation system.

Mr Barry added: “Our housing service is on an improvement journey, as laid out in our housing and employability delivery plan.

“We have a new management team in place with an increased focus and energy driven by an ambition to be Scotland’s leading social housing provider delivering excellent, effective and efficient housing services for the communities of West Dunbartonshire.”