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Drop in homelessness applications

November 03 2012
Number of Scottish homeless people falls, but concerns remain about housing shortage

The number of homeless people in Scotland is falling as a result of new measures, but concerns have been raised over the lack of permanent housing.

Fewer applications are being made to councils for homelessness assistance, with quarterly numbers down 13 per cent on the previous year.

The overall number of households with children in temporary accommodation was also down 11 per cent to 3,293.

Although the figures are a step in the right direction, over 10,000 “households” are still living in temporary accommodation including hostels and bed and breakfasts, and of those assessed, 93 per cent are regarded as high-priority cases.

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “It is good that fewer families and individuals are experiencing the tragedy of homelessness. A 13 per cent reduction is welcome, but we must not lose sight of the fact that over 10,000 households lost their home in the last quarter.”

The Scottish government has set an end-of-year target that all unintentionally homeless people will be entitled to settled accommodation, and not just those classed as priority.

To help achieve the objective, the government has set up the ‘Scottish Housing Options Approach’, enabling local authorities to look at all options such as private rental accommodation, low-cost home ownership and other measures.

The new approach has already contributed to the reduction of applications but the Liberal Democrat’s housing spokesperson, Jim Hume, expressed concerns that the “final push” to meet the end of the year goal must not become a “box-ticking exercise”.

“I’m particularly concerned that local authorities with low social housing stock may be forced to place families in long-term temporary accommodation. Liberal Democrats continue to call on the Scottish government to build further permanent homes for social rent.

“Local authorities must have the full support of the Scottish government if they are to meaningfully enforce this world-leading legislation.”

Scottish housing minister Margaret Burgess said: “Homelessness is a scourge on our society and this government will not waver in its determination to help people facing the distress of being made homeless. We will continue to drive forward with our partners in local government and elsewhere to ensure we remain on course to meet our 2012 target and sustain this into 2013 and beyond.”