Child poverty in Scotland: SNP should be ashamed of soaring numbers of children in temporary accommodation – Scotsman comment

Over the past four years, the number of children in temporary accommodation has risen from 6,795 to 9,130, according to new figures.

This shocking 34 per cent rise was rightly condemned as “unacceptable and concerning”. However, it was a slightly odd choice of words for SNP MSP Shona Robison, given that she is Scotland’s Housing Secretary – the government minister under whose watch this scandalous situation has been allowed to develop – rather than an opposition politician or the spokesperson of a homelessness charity.

In December 2021, Alison Watson, the director of one such charity, Shelter Scotland, spoke of how “life can be a nightmare for people in temporary accommodation with no safe, permanent place to live”. “It is disruptive both physically and mentally, often affecting relationships and impacting on children being able to do homework in a safe environment, being able to keep warm at night and so much more,” she said, calling on the Scottish Government to “build the new social homes that Scotland needs”.

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And yet, more than a year on from that plea, Robison's response to the latest shocking figures is to point to an “action plan” commissioned by the government. The recommendations are, apparently, “expected shortly”.

The sense of drift is reminiscent of the Scottish Government’s failure to address the rising number of drug-deaths. Ahead of the 2021 election, Nicola Sturgeon admitted they had taken their “eye off the ball” over that issue, and now it appears that rising numbers of homeless children are being treated with a similar lack of urgency.

Of course, there is one issue upon which the SNP’s eye is always fixed – independence. It is an obsessive focus that has distracted them from the everyday issues that are so important to the country, while criticism is routinely batted away by blaming Westminster or suggesting things are worse south of the Border.

That may work as a political tactic, but it is a betrayal of the thousands of children whose life chances are being blighted in increasing numbers. As voters, we have the power to force politicians to take such issues seriously. However, until the SNP realises that such utterly “unacceptable” performance will have serious consequences at the ballot box, it seems unlikely that Scotland’s poorest children will receive much comfort anytime soon.



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