Figures show 8% rise in homelessness at Christmas

The number of adults and children homeless at Christmas has risen by nearly 10%. Picture: Contributed
The number of adults and children homeless at Christmas has risen by nearly 10%. Picture: Contributed
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The number of adults and children who are homeless at Christmas has risen, according to new figures.

Statistics show there were 26,320 adults registered as homeless on December 25 last year, up 8 per cent from 24,425 in 2013.

The number of children without a home at Christmas rose 16 per cent over the same period, from 9,665 to 11,200.

The figures were released by the Scottish Government in response to a freedom-of-information request from the Scottish Liberal Democrats.

The party’s housing spokeswoman Caron Lindsay said the figures were “a stain on the national conscience” and called for an increase in the number of homes for social rent.

She said: “It is absolutely heart-breaking to learn that more than 11,000 children were homeless last Christmas.

“It is intolerable that the number of families without a permanent roof over their head continues to rise.

“The Scottish Government have failed the children and families who don’t have a stable warm home at Christmas.

“Many will have been in temporary accommodation but that it hardly a suitable or sustainable way of tackling homelessness in the long-term.

“The failure of the SNP to deliver on their previous social housing promises has undoubtedly contributed to this situation.”

Labour called for investment in housebuilding to be accelerated, highlighting figures showing private landlords have made more than £2 billion in housing benefit since 2011/12.

The party’s housing spokeswoman Pauline McNeill said: “The SNP turned a housing shortage into a housing crisis and the result is that one in every four pounds of housing benefit lines the pockets of private landlords.

“Our social security spending should be supporting our most vulnerable people, not boosting the profit margins of private landlords.

“That is why Labour wants to see a reform of the private rented sector to ban rip-off rent rises.”

Housing minister Kevin Stewart said tackling homelessness was “of the utmost importance” to the Scottish Government.

He said: “We are proud that Scotland’s legislation and preventative approach means that everyone has a right to a home and we provide temporary accommodation for everyone while they wait for appropriate permanent accommodation.

“The majority of this family accommodation is in social housing and so is of the same quality as permanent accommodation.

“Progress is being made on overall homelessness with a 6 per cent decrease in the number of households assessed as homeless, continuing the downward trend of recent years; we are also working with local authorities and other partners to prevent homelessness wherever possible.

“Obviously, we want time in temporary accommodation to be as short as possible and we are increasing housing supply through our commitment to build 50,000 affordable homes over the next five years to help address this.”

He added: “The most recent statistics also show a rise of affordable housing supply approvals in Scotland, up by 34 per cent, which shows the impact of our overall commitment of £3 billion as we continue our progress plans to deliver 50,000 affordable homes in this parliamentary term.

“The Private Tenancies Act, passed earlier this year, will provide rent stability and predictability for tenants in the private rented sector.”