Homelessness bombshell as figures rise


Shelter Scotland has said an increase in homeless applications for the first time in nine years should act as a wake-up call

19th June 2018 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

A rise in homelessness for the first time in nine years should cause alarm bells to ring, a charity has warned.

Official figures show that homeless applications to local authorities rose by 1% between April 2017 and March 2018.

The figure of 34,972 households who declared themselves as homeless follows eight years of decline, and Shelter Scotland has described the figures as shocking.

The charity’s director Graeme Brown said: “These statistics are shocking and should start alarm bells ringing in Holyrood that homelessness in Scotland is getting worse not better.

"Every 18 minutes a household was made homeless in Scotland last year with 34,972 homelessness applications - more than last year.

"For the fourth year in a row the number of homeless children living in temporary accommodation has risen - up 9% to 6,615. And people are having to stay longer in temporary accommodation with their lives in limbo."

Brown added that the figures were clear evidence that progress is being reversed.

The report, published by the Scottish Government, said the rise is likely to be due to the impact of housing options and homelessness prevention strategies adopted by most local authorities over the past few years rather than to changes in the underlying drivers of homelessness.

The main reasons for applying as homeless have remained largely unchanged in the latest year. Dispute within the household and relationship breakdown is one of the main causes of homelessness applications (30% of all applications), followed by being asked to leave (25%) by another person who lives in the house.

Of those who applied for homeless status, 82% of applicants (28,792 assessments out of a total of 34,950 assessments) were assessed as homeless or threatened with homelessness. This proportion has increased steadily from 72% in 2004/5, but is largely unchanged since 2014/15.

The amount of people living in temporary accommodation was unchanged. A total of 20,320 households entered temporary accommodation compared to 20,450 who moved on.

Housing minister Kevin Stewart said that preventing homelessness is a key priority for the Scottish Government, which is working with charities on a strategy to end homelessness.

He said: "Last year we formed a Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group to tackle this issue, as well as homelessness and rough sleeping more widely.

"The group recently set out a number of recommendations on how we can transform the use of temporary accommodation and we will be bringing forwards a programme of work to implement these recommendations, backed up by the £50m Ending Homelessness Together Fund, to drive change and improvement."