The city council could start charging homeless people to store items while they search for somewhere else to live, a new report has revealed.
Under current rules the local authority stores personal possessions like furniture free of charge, with a contract with housing charity Instant Neighbour in place
Aberdeenshire Council already charges for space if the applicant is not receiving benefits.
Now a report to be considered by the city’s finance committee next week shows officials have identified the scheme as one way to cut costs for the cash-strapped council.
They say it could save £26,000 a year.
Under the proposed scheme, a limit would be placed on the number of items that could be stored and charges introduced if the applicant doesn’t get benefits and earns more than £12,000 a year.
The highest charge that would be levelled is £78.18 and would apply to those earning more than £18,000.
A report to councillors on next week’s finance committee notes that homelessness laws require local authorities to provide “removal, storage and disposal facilities for the furniture and personal belongings of people who are determined as statutory homeless or threatened with homelessness”.
The report shows that the council’s spend on storage has reduced steeply over the past three years, with £89,995 spent this year- down from £112,784 last year.
A total of 1,490 registered as homeless in the city last year, but just 59 requested storage of their goods.
Opposition SNP finance spokesman Alex Nicoll said:”I would be very concerned about charging people who are homeless to store their belongings. Homelessness can be a very traumatic and very costly experience as it is.
“90% of those requesting storage are doing so having been made unintentionally homeless – the stress and anxiety they will be experiencing makes it almost unfathomable to place further difficulties in their way.”
Finance vice convener Gordon Graham indicated that the administration was also opposed to the change.
He said: “It is hugely important for this administration to do all we can to support and not hinder people and families who have found themselves at risk of homelessness and we feel that continuing with no charge to store people’s belongings is one small way of demonstrating that support.””