The number of children living in temporary accommodation rose by 17 per cent last year, a figure described as “deeply worrying” by housing campaigners.
There were 10,570 households in temporary accommodation as of 30 September, 2016, – an increase of 97 households compared with the same date a year earlier, according to official statistics released yesterday by the Scottish Government.
More than a quarter (3,174 households) included children or a pregnant member of the household - an increase of 13 per cent.
Scotland’s 32 councils received around 17,100 applications for homelessness assistance during April to September 2016, three per cent lower than in the same period in 2015.
“These figures back up our concerns voiced last year that the decrease in homelessness numbers seen in recent times is slowing and may have plateaued,” said Adam Lang, head of policy at Shelter Scotland.
“This is a cause for great concern and highlights the urgent need for the Scottish Government to commit to a new national homelessness strategy.
“It is deeply worrying that there are 826 more children without a permanent home in Scotland than the same time last year – a third consecutive rise. This is simply not good enough in the 21st century and shows that homelessness is far from fixed.
“To ensure no child spends longer than necessary in temporary accommodation, we need to deliver both a major step change in affordable housing supply, at least 12,000 affordable homes each year of this parliament, as well as a renewed local and national commitment to tackling the root causes of homelessness in Scotland.”
Shelter estimates that 120,000 children across Britain spent Christmas homeless and in temporary accommodation.
“While there are many reasons for families staying in temporary accommodation, I am disappointed in the increase in the number of children in temporary accommodation,” said housing minister Kevin Stewart.
“Although the majority of temporary accommodation is good quality, well managed social housing which is of the exact same standard as permanent accommodation, I am keen to see these numbers decrease and people to have a settled home.
“We are addressing the various reasons for families staying in temporary accommodation and I will continue to work together with local authorities and partners in the best interests of all households.”
Stewart added: “We are doing everything we can to make sure everyone has access to a warm and safe place to stay, and I welcome the decrease in the number of homeless applications being made during this time.
“It is, however, our aim to stop people becoming homeless in the first place which is much better for our people and our communities, and of course our homelessness services.”
Andy Wightman MSP, housing spokesman for the Scottish Greens, said: “The reduction in applications for homelessness assistance is welcome, but the fact that homelessness still exists, and in such large numbers, in our wealthy country is a national disgrace.
“The Scottish Government needs to assist families to find suitable accommodation because temporary arrangements can often be inappropriate and cause indirect issues on the wellbeing of youngsters in schools.”