Rising number of Scots kids homeless on Christmas

Young people out begging often have no permanent home. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Young people out begging often have no permanent home. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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There were 1,000 more children without a permanent home in Scotland last Christmas compared to the previous year, the latest figures show.

In total, 10,695 people under 18 presented as homeless on Christmas Day across the country – up on 9,665 in 2013.

The figures were released after a freedom of information request from the Scottish Liberal Democrats which showed more than 100,000 adults and children were homeless on the past three Christmas days. Over the three years, about 31,000 of that number were children.

Lib Dem housing spokesman Jim Hume said: “While there have been welcome decreases in some local authority areas, these figures show the appalling truth that thousands of people spent Christmas Day homeless over recent years.

“Many of them may have been placed in temporary accommodation, which is hardly a suitable way of tackling homelessness in the long-term.

“Children and adults in this country have the right to have a roof over their heads and no-one should have to spend a single day without a home.

“By backtracking on their manifesto pledge to build 6,000 homes each year for social rent, the SNP are failing these children and families who have nowhere else to go during the coldest months of the year.”

Scottish Labour has also called for a homelessness strategy to be developed in 2016.

The party’s communities spokesman, Ken Macintosh, said: “This year we are seeing an increase in the number of children who will spend Christmas Day homeless. This problem is getting worse, not better. The bare minimum every Scot deserves from their government is a home and a fair chance. If we are serious about building a fairer Scotland, then we have to start by building more homes.

“But we can do more right now to help those in pressing need.

“The last Labour-led Scottish Government set a bold target on homelessness in 2003 
but nearly 13 years on we seem to have lost that that sense of purpose.”

Margaret Burgess, minister for housing and welfare, said: “We will continue to work closely with local authorities, housing associations and the private and voluntary sectors to prevent homelessness and ensure everyone has access to a warm and safe place to stay.

“Against a challenging financial background we are doing everything we can to help increase housing supply.”