Children in crisis: Scots kids spent one million days in temp lodgings last year

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Charity warns children's health is being affected because of homelessness  

6th February 2017 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Scots children spent nearly one million days in temporary accommodation last year – a situation that is harming their health a charity has warned.

Shelter Scotland said the time spent in temporary accommodation by homeless families with children is now far too long and risks damaging their wellbeing. 

The homelessness charity  made the comments as it launched its third annual Use of Temporary Accommodation in Scotland report which was compiled following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to Scotland’s local authorities.

The charity says that the average time spent in temporary accommodation by families with children has increased by almost 20% in the last two years to more than 20 weeks. 

Analysis also showed that 13% of families with children were in temporary accommodation for longer than a year compared to 11% of households without children. 

The report showed that local authorities in Scotland had to provide 3.8 million days of temporary accommodation to homeless families and individuals last year.

Recent Scottish Government statistics revealed that in September 2016 the number of homeless children in temporary accommodation had risen by 17% on the previous year to 5,751.

Alison Watson, deputy director of Shelter Scotland, said: “Losing your home is a traumatic experience in itself, but then having to spend increasingly long periods of time in temporary accommodation – with no guaranteed standard for the quality of your housing – just heaps more misery on people whose lives are already in crisis. 

“Children in particular are adversely affected by homelessness and, as recent Scottish Government figures show, the problem is getting worse not better – with 826 more children in temporary accommodation last year than the year before. 

“Just as worrying is the fact that families with children are now spending longer in temporary accommodation than in previous years, with the median length of stay having increased to more than 20 weeks. It is well known that children’s health and education tend to suffer more the longer they are in temporary accommodation.”

At the heart of the problem is Scotland’s housing crisis caused by an acute shortage of affordable homes - Alison Watson

An Audit Scotland report estimated that temporary accommodation costs Scottish local authorities around £27 million per year extra than if they provided permanent homes for those in need. 

Watson added: “At the heart of the problem is Scotland’s housing crisis caused by an acute shortage of affordable homes.  We recognise the Scottish Government’s commitment to build 50,000 new affordable homes by 2021, but that falls short of the minimum of 12,000 a year we actually need. 

“If we do build enough affordable housing of the right sort in the right places, then people’s stay in temporary accommodation can be cut dramatically, the profound impact of homelessness can be reduced and people can rebuild their lives sooner. We’d also save millions of pounds a year to the public purse.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We want time in such accommodation to be as short as possible.

“We have committed to investing over £3billion to deliver at least 50,000 affordable homes by 2021 and by ending Right to Buy, we are protecting up to 15,000 social homes for sale over the next 10 years and safeguarding this stock for future generations.”

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