Homeless children face housing emergency

Thousands of Scots children have been left in “inappropriate” temporary accommodation as homelessness levels continue to rise.

Homelessness in Scotland continues to increase. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

There are now warnings of a “housing emergency” in Scotland with a call for a U-turn on proposed Scottish Government council cuts.

Ministers have insisted that “decisive action” is being taken to tackle the problem, but claimed UK government welfare cuts were to blame.

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The number of homeless applications rose by 284 to reach 18,486 between April and September last year. The number of children in temporary accommodation which can include B&Bs, rose by 245 to reach 6,286.

Graeme Brown, director of national housing charity Shelter Scotland, said: “If alarm bells weren’t already ringing in Holyrood they should be now.

“Homelessness in Scotland continues to increase – with even more children in homeless temporary accommodation than last year and people having to stay longer in temporary accommodation with their lives in limbo.

“And with hundreds of breaches of the unsuitable accommodation order and households being turned away from temporary accommodation they are entitled to thousands of times, it is clear there is a housing emergency in Scotland.”

The number of homelessness applications has been decreasing since 2010 when they stood at about 57,000. The last year has seen the figures go up.

Labour housing spokeswoman Pauline McNeil said: “These figures are disgraceful and should prompt hard questions inside the government.

“It is clear that the systematic problems that lead to homelessness are not being tackled and that’s before we consider the impact of the SNPs £1.5 billion worth of cuts to councils since 2011. These cuts threaten vital services and mean people fall through the cracks because they aren’t getting the support they need.”

The Scottish Government published its Ending Homelessness Together action plan in November last year, setting out an approach to end homelessness in the country.

Housing minister Kevin Stewart said the Scottish Government is “taking decisive action” to completely end homelessness.

Mr Stewart said: “We know that UK government welfare changes are impacting on the most vulnerable in our society and we are doing everything within our powers, including investing over £127 million in 2018/19, to mitigate UK welfare reform and drive lasting change to prevent and end homelessness.”

The figures indicated there were 10,955 households in temporary accommodation, an increase of 56 households on the previous year.

Scottish Conservative housing spokesman Graham Simpson branded the figures “appalling.”

He said: “The SNP government must address the issue.

“Homelessness and housing supply are intrinsically linked and the SNP has failed to meet manifesto commitments on building affordable housing.

Scottish Greens housing spokesman Andy Wightman MSP branded the rise in children living in temporary accommodation a “national disgrace.”

“Temporary arrangements can often be inappropriate and can affect the health and wellbeing of children and families.”