The target for building new council houses in Moray has been lowered – despite more than 3,500 applications on the waiting list.
Senior management have reduced the annual bar from 70 to 50 in order to concentrate on maintaining existing buildings.
The move comes after it was revealed that the council faces a mounting backlog of replacing ageing boilers.
Head of housing, Richard Anderson, warned that installing new heating systems was likely to be the “main area of expenditure” for at least the next two years – stressing other costs, including for new-builds, must be reduced to balance the books.
Louise Laing, chairwoman of the council’s communities committee, described the reduction as “disappointing” but stressed the construction target was originally 50 before it was increased to 70 three years ago.
She said: “We are trying to provide enough houses for people on the list.
“To do that we’re also looking at funding for empty homes, so instead of buying new houses on the outskirts of towns we are looking at bringing homes on the inside of towns back into use.”
During yesterday’s full council meeting Conservative group leader Tim Eagle raised concerns about a “shortfall” in new houses to meet demand.
Mr Anderson explained that cash needed to be focussed on maintenance on existing properties at the moment.
He said: “The long-term business plan is that 50 units per year is an affordable number. We can vary between these numbers but this year coming we need to look at other programmes as well as new-builds unfortunately.”
Meanwhile, councillors also agreed to consult with tenants about increasing rents, which are currently the lowest in Scotland, by 3%.