THE number of people seeking help for homelessness has fallen by more than a tenth, according to Scottish Government figures.
In the year to June, there were 9,474 applications for homelessness assistance – 11 per cent lower than the same period last year. The fall is due to housing options and homelessness prevention actions offered by councils, rather than changes in the underlying causes of homelessness, according to statisticians.
The number of people made homeless or threatened with homelessness fell by a tenth to 7,649. The number of people in temporary accommodation has increased slightly over the year (0.3 per cent) to 10,494 but is 6 per cent lower than in early 2011, when temporary placements were in excess of 12,000.
Over the same period, there were 2,821 households with children in temporary accommodation, a decrease of 472 (14 per cent) from the previous year. These households contained a total of 4,574 children, a decrease of 727 children (14 per cent). The number of children in bed and breakfast accommodation has halved to just nine.
Housing minister Margaret Burgess said: “While we welcome this continued improvement, we are concerned that Westminster’s welfare changes may undermine this good work.
“Over the past few years, councils have been developing services in which staff assist households to consider their range of housing options, in order to help prevent homelessness before it occurs.
“Alongside this, we want to increase housing supply to ensure settled accommodation can be accessed by households as quickly as possible and avoid them spending too much time in temporary accommodation.
“Increasing the supply of affordable housing is a vital part of our efforts to build a better and fairer Scotland. This government aims to deliver 30,000 affordable homes – including 20,000 for social rent – over the life of this parliament. Over the next three years, we will be making over £900 million available for affordable housing.”
Graeme Brown, director of housing charity Shelter Scotland, said: “It is good news that 11 per cent fewer families and individuals are experiencing the trauma of homelessness.
“However, homelessness in Scotland is still too high and we cannot afford to be complacent or lose sight of the fact that over 7,649 households found themselves homeless in just three months.
“The root cause of homelessness is a housing crisis which has seen the housing safety net stripped apart after decades of under-investment.
“The only way forward is for the Scottish Government to build at least 10,000 new social homes a year to bring hope to the 155,100 on local authority housing waiting lists and much-needed jobs to the construction sector.”