SHETLAND Islands Council says a large increase in the number of disabled people on its housing waiting list is partly down to a change in the way figures are now reported to regulators.
Housing manager Anita Jamieson added that an ageing population may also have contributed to the rise as the data is based on the applicant’s own view if they consider themselves to have a disability.
Conservative MSP for the Highlands and Islands Jamie Halcro Johnston raised concern that the number of disabled people in Shetland waiting for a house increased from 23 in March 2017 to 67 the following year.
Freedom of information figures obtained by his party showed that the average wait for a council house for a disabled person in Shetland was 371 days.
Jamieson, however, said the numbers related to disabled people is now a specific reporting requirement of the Scottish Housing Regulator, meaning that it may account for people previously not recorded.
“As this has been newly introduced, then these figures have increased for many local authorities as this information may not have been recorded previously,” she said.
“Our data is also based on applicant’s own view of whether they consider that they have a disability, rather than a medical assessment.
“With an ageing population, it is reasonable to expect that more people would have mobility problems or other age-related health conditions.”
Halcro Johnston said that any problems over waiting lists are being “exacerbated by the refusal of the SNP government to pass on funding it receives from Westminster to our councils, and by the squeeze on public funding we’re seeing as money is directed to SNP pet projects, usually in the Central Belt.”