COUNCILLORS will be asked today to approve plans designed to help fulfill a commitment to build 1,000 new affordable rented homes by 2023.

The housing and communities committee will be urged to approve West Dunbartonshire Council’s new Strategic Housing Investment Plan (SHIP) which is expected to cost more than £81 million, funded by Scottish Government grants and other external sources.

Around 360 social houses are either completed already or are set for completion by 2018 – with hundreds more expected in the next few years.

About 200 new properties would have to be built annually over the next five years in order to reach the target.

Future projects include St Andrews High School, Clydebank (120 units), Creveul Court, Alexandria (15 units), Westcliff, Dumbarton (46 units), Queens Quay, Clydebank (160 units) and Dumbain Road/Carrochan Road, Alexandria (35 units).

Members of the authority’s housing committee will today be asked to agree the draft SHIP report, approve its submission to the Scottish Government and instruct their officers to deliver the plan in partnership with council stakeholders.

The report to go before members next week says: “The core purpose of the SHIP is to set out the strategic investment priorities for affordable housing over a five-year period to achieve the outcomes contained in the Local Housing Strategy.

“It complements the new West Dunbartonshire Local Housing Strategy 2017-2022 approved by the council and submitted to the Scottish Government in November 2016.”

According to the report, the plan comes at an “exciting period” for social housing in Scotland with the development of the Scottish Government’s More Homes Scotland approach to increasing the supply of new affordable housing across the country.

The report goes on: “This initiative sees £3 billion being committed to deliver 50,000 new affordable homes over the next five years, 35,000 of these being for social rent.

“The SHIP details how the council will assist in meeting this target through the delivery of around 1,000 new social rented homes in West Dunbartonshire through the More Homes West Dunbartonshire approach.”

The report does issue a note of caution when it states the delivery of this “ambitious plan” will depend upon “appropriate funding” from the Scottish Government, adding that the “funding required” to deliver the SHIP is estimated to be around £81m.

But Leven councillor Jim Bollan said the current level of affordable housing locally is a drop in the ocean.

He said: “Whilst welcome, 200 affordable homes per year is a drop in the bucket to the amount really needed.

“Homelessness is also increasing and is set to increase rapidly as we see the effects of Universal Credit hitting claimants hard, particularly young people who will end up homeless. Compounding this situation is the SNP proposal to cut the number of properties available for homeless people by 10 per cent.”