Homelessness falling in Scotland, but temporary solutions still too prevalent
The number of homeless people in Scotland is falling, according to figures published yesterday.
Fewer people are applying to councils for homelessness assistance, with quarterly numbers down 13 per cent on last year. In the three months to June, 10,395 applications were made for help.
But there are still more than 10,000 “households”, some made up of mothers and children, living in temporary accommodation in Scotland. This can include hostels or bed and breakfasts. And the Scottish Government wants all people who present as homeless the right to “settled accommodation” by the end of the year.
The number of households with children in temporary accommodation was down 11 per cent to 3,293, although there were just over 100 children in either hostels or B&Bs.
Housing minister Margaret Burgess said: “These latest falls in homeless applications provide proof that measures to tackle and prevent homelessness are making a real difference.
“We will continue to drive forward with our partners in local government and elsewhere to ensure we remain on course to meet our 2012 target and sustain this into 2013 and beyond.”
Of those assessed as homeless, 93 per cent are regarded as being in priority need.
Under the Scottish Government’s homelessness target, from the end of this year all unintentionally homeless people are entitled to settled accommodation, and not just those classed as a priority.
To help meet the target, the government set up the “Scottish Housing Options Approach”, by which local authorities look at all options such as private rental accommodation, low-cost home ownership and other measures, instead of a homelessness assessment as the first option.
Liberal Democrat housing spokesman Jim Hume warned the “final push” to meet homelessness targets must not become a “box-ticking exercise”. “I’m particularly concerned that local authorities with low social housing stock may be forced to place families in long-term temporary accommodation,” he said.
“That’s why Liberal Democrats continue to call on the Scottish Government to build further permanent homes for social rent. Local authorities must have the full support of the Scottish Government if they are to meaningfully enforce this world-leading legislation.
“With over 10,000 households living in temporary accommodation, we will continue to press the Scottish Government on this.”
Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “It is good that fewer families and individuals are experiencing the tragedy of homelessness. A 13 per cent reduction is welcome, but we must not lose sight of the fact that over 10,000 households lost their home in the last quarter.”
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Saturday 18 May 2013
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