Welfare reforms may lead to a new rise in homelessness

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Scotland’s falling rates of homelessness could be under threat over the coming years from welfare reforms, the prolonged recession and a tightening supply of affordable housing, a report has found.

Recorded homelessness is in decline north of the Border, bucking the UK trend, which has seen a dramatic rise.

Statutory homelessness applications in Scotland have fallen by 19 per cent over the past year, dropping from 55,663 in 2010-11 to 45,322 in 2011-12. Rough sleeping is also decreasing.

The Homelessness Monitor, a major independent study by Heriot-Watt University and the University of York, published by homelessness charity Crisis today, said the decline is threatened by underlying housing pressures, with trends in “hidden homelessness” showing a more mixed picture.

About 7per cent of all Scottish households are estimated to contain a so-called “concealed household”, in which family units or single adults are living within other households, a figure which has remained fairly static over the past two years.

Meanwhile, there been a slowdown in the formation of new households, particularly in the 25-34 group, mainly because of housing affordability and access problems, the group’s 
report said.s